“The Inherent Nobility of Man” – A National Feat

Correcting an overdue wrong….

Catching the photographers off guard – the curtain was drawn from the centre out showing bowing heads in shame and remorse.

A major event in the history of art in Trinidad and Tobago took place on November 01, 2006, the shamefully destroyed master work of the late Carlisle Chang was lovingly repainted by his avid disciple, Mr. Glenn Roopchand. Much has been written about the distruction of such acoveted work, that once graced our national airport. For many years the wrangle between government and artists as to the respect and regard for art has quietly been waged, and today, at last the law has come down for a moment on the side of the art.

It was a national feat, and a well deserving heartfelt applause erupted after the reproduction of the mural, ‘The Inherent Nobility of Man’ was revealed to a packed gallery where people had to stand on the periphery of the upper gallery at the National Museum in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Breathing room – as art patrons began to venture off to see other parts of the Glenn Roopchand’s exhibition

The Replica of ‘The inherent Nobility of Man’ is constructed by eight large acrylic panels. Mr.Roopchand completed the work in six months in his working garage space. As a teenager he was an apprentice to Carlisle Chang, and actually worked onthe original mural. ‘The inherent Nobility of Man’ is one of the most important works since the Country’s independence in 1962.

Where Mr. Chang’s Influences may have be quoted – “Man At The Crossroads,” Diego Rivera’s painted fresco commissioned for the Rockefeller Center in New York in 1934. Ironically it was destroyed by political circumstances and like Mr. Chang’s work the lack of foresight or ignorance in the mural’s importance is a sample that great efforts from humble hands outlast an eternity.

Taking a closer look at Glenn Roopchand’s rendering of Mr. Chang’s winged Amerindian and the symbolism that reflects the vision of a new independence, yet mindful of the first peoples and the sorrow of their extermination.

For Trinidad and Tobago, the re- creation of ‘The Inherent Nobility of Man’ is an important step that acknowledges the role in which Art is placed, and the National Museum is commended for its efforts thus ending the controversy over the destruction of the original mural thirty years ago. See the model of the Mr. Chang work. “The After Carlisle Chang” exhibition ends December 1st 2006 – thebookmann
Imitation and articulation:

Glenn Roopchand's recreation of Carlisle Chang's The Inherent Nobility of Man, National Museum of Trinidad and Tobago

I have written about the monumental work of theartist Carlisle Chang in the past, and in 2006 theartist and mentor of Mr. Changs’, Mr. Glenn Roopchandtook on the challenging task of recreating or more so, reinterpreting this extremely important work titled The Inherent Nobility of Man that had been controversially destroyed in the 1970’s. What was striking about the original work to me, wasthe way that Mr. Chang used colour and form. There is an acute awareness in his work of the mural painting of artists like Diego Riviera. Mr. Chang was attempting to tell a personal story to the peoples of Trinidad and Tobago, and his image of the man ofcolour souring into the air, Icarus, struck me asquite powerful. He also explored the symbolic use of several fallen figures with a sense of despair that was quite palpable. Although I was a child when The Inherent Nobility ofMan was destroyed, I do remember it. In fact it wasone of the first local pieces of art that I remember,so it also has deeper meaning for me regarding what is considered Art of Trinidad and Tobago.

I also had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Chang in his later years, and everyone knows that he had an amazing memory as well as great culinary skill. He is one of our most important artists for all that he has contributed to the vocabulary of art in this region. Fortunately many other works of Mr. Chang’s can be seen in Trinidad. In another post thebookmann and I shall cover the sculpture of the island in greater depth. As I came upon the reinterpretation of The Inherent Nobility of Man by Mr. Roopchand, I was disturbed to find that the figures did not sit in space with the same cohesion as Mr. Chang’s. Although it is clear that this is the work of the pupil who has taken great pains to reproduce the original, I had some concerns .If indeed this is a copy, then it needed to bere produced precisely. I do not believe any such endeavour has been attempted before, and Mr. Roopchand did take on a huge task by doing the work in the first place. It is just that, asI looked away from the work, and looked at an actual Roopchand painting some feet away, I saw a much more expressive, lively and proficient work than what looked upon me.What this said to me was that, one can attempt to copy a work, but one cannot copy the energy, drive and soulof a piece. Mr. Roopchand’s efforts to right the wrong done to his teacher is definitely noteworthy, and it is important however for that aspect, and this makes it very valuable to us today and tomorrow – Adele


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