October 31, 2014

Artist Carl E. Hazlewood ‘It is no longer about inspiration’

By Venessa Deosaran

Carl E. Hazlewood

Carl E. Hazlewood, a Guyanese by birth, has been an exhibiting artist since childhood. His creative work using paper and making it into art is a bit ‘unusual’ among Guyanese artists. However, his ingenious way of working with the medium makes him a renowned international artist who always represents his country well.

He is also a writer and curator currently living in Brooklyn, NY. The co-founder of Aljira, A Center for Contemporary Art in Newark, NJ., he has taught at New Jersey City University and other institutions.

Currently associate editor for Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, (Duke University) he has written for many other periodicals, including Flash Art International, ART PAPERS Magazine, and NY Arts Magazine.

Since 1984, he has organised numerous curatorial projects for Aljira such as ‘Modern Life’. Hazlewood’s project on behalf of Aljira, ‘Current Identities, Recent Painting in the United States,’ was the US prize- winning representation at the ‘Bienal International de Pintura,’ Cuenca, Ecuador 1994.

‘Angel Heart of Glass’

As an independent curator, he has organised exhibitions for The Nathan Cummings Foundation, NY; Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; Hallwalls, NY; Artists Space, NY; P. S. 122, NY, among other venues.

“My previous body of work was entitled the ‘Demerara’ series, an ongoing project I’d been working on since the early 70s. I was born in the Demerara region. There is a great river, ‘Demerara’ and a county named after it. Without sounding overly dramatic or romantic, my paintings had been, at least in the conventions of naming, an acknowledgement of the persistence of cultural and personal memory encoded in the way I see colour, that is, landscape colour, skin colour, pure prismatic colour. As we all know, painting had been increasingly problematic as a worthwhile activity. For a culturally complex ‘black’ person from the Caribbean there were even more demanding questions concerning its relevance.

“As a curator and someone interested in theoretical aspects of art, it seemed necessary to take all these polemical ideas into consideration. But in my own work right now, I’m more interested in paring down complexities to essential practical ideas; particularly those basic ones that concern the visual and establishing an assertive abstract image,” the artist said at one of his exhibitions in the U. S.

‘Violet Angel-Rising’

Hazlewood’s works are made mostly of paper attached directly to the wall. Unframed, the bounding edges are unrestricted; left free to respond to the visual ‘pressures’ of what happens within the piece. So shapes may be rectangular or erratic; they respond mainly to the support, which is the wall. Colour or lack of colour, textures, and so on construct a sort of visual ‘order’ enforced by intuitive adjustments of collaged and assembled elements, as well as an implied, but subtle geometric underpinning.

In an interview with Guyana Times Sunday Magazine, Hazlewood stated while continuing to write and put shows together for Guyanese artists and others overseas, he is also in the first stages of planning a solo exhibition to be held later this year or next.

“I’ll be in Barbados in March during the Caribbean Arts Fair. I’ll be part of talks with other critics from the Caribbean and Latin America about the state of art in the Anglophile Caribbean. Also I just completed an essay on Guyana-born international artist, Frank Bowling for his upcoming show in NYC. I’m working on something for Guyanese artist, Dudley Charles to be published later this year,” he disclosed.

‘Pretty Angel Baby’

When asked where he draws his inspiration, the artist said it is no longer about ‘inspiration’. He has been hard at work since a small child in Guyana, then later on in the U. S., so cultural endeavours of all types— art, literature and music— are all second nature for him now.

“As the American painter Chuck Close has reputedly said, ‘Inspiration is for amateurs.’ One gets up every day and does what one must. No excuses. This has become a way of life. With that said, if one looks and listens quietly and carefully, there are always sources of inspiration to be found everywhere. It may be there in nature, in the structure of a leaf, or flower or in scientific thought, modern technology— the digital realm, for example. But it is up to the individual.

“I try to be still, contemplative, and open to what comes to me; it may involve the world of ‘real’ things, or I may work through conceptual ideas using multimedia. It all depends on what I need to say visually. This is my life,” the artist concluded. (Taken from Guyana Times Sunday Magazine)