Remembering Bookmann geocites 2004 – Public Art # 11, a Classic – We Pope

A winner in the “Trinidad Aesthetic” Hall of Artistry

2009-07-27_100638

St Joseph, Trinidad

Near dusk, Pope John Paul II emerged from the National Athletic Stadium into the open field. Local Catholic nuns, dressed in their earthy brown habits displayed a carnival mentality never televised before. They were not unperturbed in prayer, genuflecting to his Holiness in a proper Church-Mass manner that would be expected of them, no, they bolted like a startled herd, galloping towards the stadium’s athletic track to see their JP2, superstar circulating in his Pope-mobile. Orgasmic really, as they gyrated their hips side to side, and chiped to the calypso rhythms in chorus sung together in unity from a stadium packed with all religions and creeds. “We Pope.”

This is a nation of staunch Catholics, who carry the iconography of the Virgin Mary in their homes, businesses, cars and on themselves. It is in San Jose de Oruna, one of the oldest “New World” territories that a wall mural displays not only the talent of a great painter, (Trini standards) but also of his Catholic upbring displayed as contemporary motif, a masterpiece to all who past by.

A child rests, his hands are nestled on the shoulder of his father and is hidden between his regal beard. (what a clever way not to show the painted hands) Clothed in a white short sleeve “Polo” shirt, he has an uncanny resemblance to Pope John Paul II at the age of five

Rewriting the annals of biblical history

Jason Belaw is proud enough to sign his name to his newest testament, a life-size portrait of Joseph and the infant, Jesus. Emerging from the dark background, the four by seven masterwork is dominated by the figure of Joseph dressed in a full roman scarlet-red Chasuble and seated, if you believe, on a throne draped with a sea-moss green table cloth. His left arm is placed gingerly on the armrest. His other hand, under the heavy strain of carrying this sixty-pound child, is quite petite, and his feet are well protected by a tanned hide “Clarks”. No Rembrandt here, but a subject painted under a illuminated 10-watt bulb. A winner in the “Trinidad Aesthetic” Hall of Artistry.

Jason Belaw choose not to use emulsion for this painting, only the best he thought, and that would have to be the Everlasting Berger low-sheen house oil paint. The German chemist, Lewis Berger in 1760 developed a new formula for pigments popularly known as Scarlet-red, Sea-moss green, Dominica brown and Pitch-lake black. The lacquer, applied layer by layer, gives the Berger high-gloss-house-paint a lustre of eternity. Father Joseph gestures with a “cut-eye” as he holds the Messiah who appears not to be his child. Is the artist inadvertently trying to say something about himself?

Christians have paraphrased the interpretation of Jesus’ life, convincing the masses that the Holy icon closely resembles a “New World” look. If he looks like one of us, then he must have originated from here. The fact that Jesus was a true historic person, a Jew, a humble craftsman whose beliefs and faith written decades after his execution, has trickled down to us. It is as if we were using an empty Nestle condense milk tin, twine stung taut of over the millennium, connected to muddled words and meaning, images and paintings of his life, yet still celebrated in his spirit on the walls of St. Joseph College.

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