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Josh Lu puts Paradise on show at Medulla
A new art exhibition by Joshua Lue Chee Kong (Josh Lu), called Paradise, opens this week at the Medulla Art Gallery in Woodbrook, Port-of-Spain. The opening reception is this evening, with the show running until July 6. The artist will talk about his art on July 5.
Lu says he uses subliminal elements in his art to bridge the gap between generations. He combines folklore, history and architecture with technoculture, science fiction and steam punk themes.
Lu is a T&T artist who studied graphic design at the Savannah School of Art and Design. He has a keen interest in history and culture and is presently exploring T&T’s folklore, trying to redefine and expand cultural imagery. His work has been published in Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas, and two of his photographic images appeared on the cover of TIME magazine.
In a release on the upcoming show, Lu raises questions about the future of the Caribbean, given our brutal past.
He also asks: “How can Caribbean artists develop their own visual language, in a society saturated by American pop culture icons like the Kardashians, Coca Cola, the BeyHive and Beliebers? Is the Caribbean being Americanised, or is America becoming Caribbeanised?” Lu says the idea of the “Caribbeanisation” of America can be seen in the cultural appropriation and pop representation of Caribbean culture in Justin Beiber’s song Sorry, and Rihanna’s song Work. He says both songs generated criticisms around authenticity of Caribbean culture.
Afrofuturism is another interest of Lu’s. He says:
“I have been fascinated by Afrofuturism: a conceptual approach that revolves around the African diaspora’s consciousness, creating a reimagined future that stems from the diasporic community’s experiences and historical past. I chose to shift my lens to the Caribbean diaspora as an entity of its own as I examine and imagine my own alternative future based on my own multi-influenced Trinidadian history, experiences, and projections.”
Another interest of Lu is the notion of paradise in the Caribbean, which is being fractured by crime and corruption. He says:
“Paradise is often compared to the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve experienced heaven on Earth before their betrayal. In fact, the word paradise comes from an old Iranian word ‘paridaya’ meaning ‘walled enclosure’. Does this mean that we perceive paradise as an isolated space existing behind tall walls? Our homes, places of worship and even our vehicles may be evidence of efforts to create a paradise, an escape from dealing with the realities of the outside world.”
“My show Paradise addresses the societal turmoil of T&T in particular, showcasing a paradise, suspended at a point in time when it is being fractured by violent crimes, drugs and corruption. Guns, cutlasses and mechanical objects of destruction are recurring motifs in my work, representative of a dystopian utopia. Violence, crime, corruption, the drug trade and other contemporary issues affect the rapidly changing Caribbean landscape and need to be discussed.”
Opening reception: Thursday, June 16,
7 pm-10 pm
Venue: Medulla Art Gallery, 37 Fitt Street, Woodbrook, Port-of-Spain.
Artist’s talk: Tuesday, July 5
Exhibition dates: Friday, June 17—Wednesday, July 6
Gallery hours: Monday—Friday: 10 am—6 pm, Saturday: 11 am—2 pm
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