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Ché Lovelace


Anna Walcott-Hardy

March 17, 2021

Top Image by: Shaun Rambaran

Ché Lovelace grew up in Matura, a pristine village on the east coast of Trinidad. He studied fine art at l’Ecole Regionale des Beaux Arts de la Martinique, and currently lectures at The University of the West Indies (UWI) Department of Creative Arts in St Augustine.

He’s been painting for several years at his studio in Chaguaramas and more recently exhibiting large-scale, mostly figurative works, at home and abroad.

A recent review in Le Figaro of a 2017 solo exhibition at Galerie Hussenot in Paris stated that, “Lovelace brings a fresh air to contemporary painting with a palette that is joyful, intense and bright as well as a brushstroke that is lively, alert but firm.”

Indeed, Ché's amplified palette, undeniably deft brushstrokes and Expressionist style has gained much attention over the years.  He has been inspired by artists like Sybil Atteck, who studied under the German Expressionist painter Max Beckman and founded the Society of Independents, the beginning of today’s Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago, of which Ché is a Board Member.

 In his latest exhibition at The LOFTT Gallery in July 2018, the heightened hues seemed almost too bright, mismatched, unprecedented, to the ochres, vermillion and Bismark Blues that are preferred in the work of influential master artists from Carlisle Chang and Isaiah James Boodhoo to Paul Kain, Sarah Mc Knight and Embah. 

But perhaps this is the intent, to absolutely turn the norms upside down, create a new narrative, an altered state with figures either at rest or on the edge of acrobatics.

He takes images of palm fronds blasted by a sea breeze or a portrait of a young girl, her hair in corn rows, and dissects them into prisms of colour and light. The New Yorker review of Ché's solo exhibition in the city in 2017 seemed to touch on this transition from posturing to kinesis.

“Poised on the border between Cubism and Realism, Lovelace doesn’t really belong to any school, part of the beauty of his work lies in watching the artist establish his own vocabulary.  He’s not afraid of pleasure and knows how much the soul craves colour – a refuge during these dark days…”

As a boy, Ché explained that he was a dreamer with a vivid imagination and knew from a young age that he wanted to “pursue a creative life”, although he says that he was not "really an artistically inclined child”.  However, this all changed at Queen’s Royal College (QRC).

"With my then art teacher, Jackie Hinkson, is when I felt a strong pull towards art. I thought maybe this could be something I can work at, even as I had a feeling that it would be a long road to get anywhere with it...and this has been so true.”

 Born in San Fernando, an avid surfer, he grew-up in a family of creative non-traditionalists in Matura, with his father, Earl Lovelace being the famed writer of acclaimed novels, 'Salt' and 'The Dragon Can’t Dance'.

“Matura still holds a special and magical place in my memory. The richness of the imagery…the encounter with nature… and the interaction with the village folk,  as well as the heady atmosphere created by the various writers and artists that visited my family during that period. In some ways I am still unravelling that experience through my painting, especially now that for the first time in my adult work I am making paintings that reference nature.”