The Enigma of Arrival presents an exchange between Alberta Whittle and Che Lovelace about postcolonial realizations. Through textile assemblage and painting, both artists focus on their hereditary homelands to reengage with Caribbean symbolism.
The title is borrowed from Nobel Laureate V.S. Naipaul’s 1971 book, in which he recounts the experience of migrating from Trinidad to Wiltshire, England. Arrivals are bound to their corresponding departures and with that, an abandonment of one’s previous locality. Naipaul’s writing meditates on what this entails and its long-term effects on inward perceptions, both new and preconceived. Lovelace and Whittle have spent time away from their respective Caribbean homes, Trinidad and Barbados. A similar reflection emerges through personal trajectory, and the lessons that going away can impart, having returned to the original place of departure.
Color, anonymity, and zest unite these artists’ works. Lovelace’s paintings are animated by faceted washes of color and a cubist bent. Figures that occupy his domains are emblematic of his queries into the body in motion and malleable identities, inspired by his active participation in traditional masquerade. Instead of partaking herself, Whittle employs her invented characters to engage in the custom, adorning them with traditional garments from carnival and Bajan Tuk band style. In addition to examining performance, both artists create anonymous personas who serve as symbolic sites. Whittle’s occupant’s display minimal facial features while posited in intricate tuftings. Lovelace abstracts his characters geometrically, giving view to the psychological tenor of an individual or space.