Remembering Bookmann geocites 2004 – Nikolai Noel


Caribbean Contemporary Arts, CCA7, Trinidad West Indies

This is a piece I do intend on reworking not entirely satisfied with the effect… I had wanted to utilize the style of the low relief woodwork that you can see in craft shops and down town with Rastafarian figures like Bob Marley and seen’s of men fishing or working in there gardens, that was the reason for approaching the piece the way I did, I however now think that as a piece it would work better in a slicker more refined form… may be even mechanized to some extent.


The piece was born initially out of the argument about the ‘color’ of Christ. Then it grew to include a new or maybe not so new “arrogance” of Christians in their assertion that no other religious or philosophy is remotely legitimate or even

when I say that I am deeply religious I mean in a philosophical sense, in search of god and the idea of god, you know some reasonable truth or satisfyingly elaborate fairy tail, something challenging well thought out story where the pieces fit according to prearranged rules, I suppose what I am is a theology buff of sorts is what I mean, just don’t want to be misunderstood.


Photographs courtesy of Nikolai Noel

A little word about the piece… it is firstly the largest piece I have completed to date 16ft x 8ft installed it is acrylic paint, block print and black oil pastel. It depicts a sort of dance of the dammed with a jouvert influence… the crabs are human figures with the head and spinal cord removed (brain and nervous systems) to effectively become non-thinking non-feeling creatures that devour other humans in a sense evangelizing, spreading there particular ideology or non-thinking non-feeling.

In the center panel is ‘the true Baphomet augmented’ it is a creature that is a corruption of the occult figure called Baphomet, the idol supposedly worshiped by the knights templar in Jerusalem responsible for there demise. The icon was subject to various visual interpretations through the years the most popular being the seated goat headed hermaphrodite of Eliphas Levi which is probably a corruption of Janis the roman deity, in any case this is the form I chose to corrupt by surgically removing the male-female organs (womb, penis, breasts) to make it an abomination even to its occult intention. The picture is this creature and his horde painfully balanced on wooden rods as stilts arriving like Columbus on the coast of our island… the mountain in the background were adapted from early etchings of Port of Spain.


The beggars couch (aprox. 6ft x 4ft installed)

The inscription on the top panel reads ‘in the service to bring glory to those other than yourself’. The piece deals with the depressed/oppressed citizen, the remnants of colonialism and how religious organizations take advantage of cretin classes of citizens, not helping but rather pacifying them into marinating the status quo.

God will never be captured in art – as we capture a tree or face, for instance. Although He’s been portrayed in every medium imaginable, it has always been as a simulacrum or metaphor, not a reproduction, a likeness. That is never going to happen because God belongs to the sphere of philosophy and religion – not art. In fact, art (despite the fact that it’s been employed in the service of all religions – most obviously for propaganda and ritual) has been looked at very warily and askance and jealously by all the priestly class, more so in the West – think of Judaism and Islam. For out of nothing, apparently, comes the work of art (even a depiction of God). Art is an act of creation in and of itself, which no priest or shaman or divinator can duplicate. And hence the suspicion, the outright haterade under which the artist often labours ( perhaps why Woman is also held in either absolute reverence or absolute despisement, being the bringer of the race, the womb of life, creation itself, which no priest – for they are mostly male – can ever be. – Nikolai Noel, July 2005

Then why do we artists continue to worry God so, always trying to render, to replicate him? Well, for one, because artists are the conduit between the priest and the ordinary believer, who needs the representation of the ineffable as something more visual, tactile, something which translates the metaphor into the nearest thing we have to reality, dumbing down the idea, certainly (as in God the Father, God the Shivalingham) but the best we can do. Notice, too, it’ not infrequently that the image is confused with the idea, and is worshiped in itself – the ultimate blasphemy!. For the magnificence of this power, this mystery is beyond us all, which we can never understand, much less, then, appreciate. Sub Text: Stuart Hahn

Note: These articles are taken from Bookmann hosted on Geocities 2004-2005

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