See the “visual poetry” in Brian Ashing’s paintings


A glance at Brian Ashing’s paintings reveals a deep inner life.

His pieces – “visual poetry” in the artist’s own words – are full of emotion and composed of realistic hues and rich textures. The self-taught painter organizes his first personal exhibition, Prelude, from September 4 to 11 at the headquarters of the Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago, organized by Gallery 101.

Ashing told us about his creative process and his influences.

Regarding the autodidact, Ashing said he never really took the time to understand what that meant compared to other artists who may have attended art academies or taken classes with. veterans until recently.

“I’m really starting to appreciate the [meaning] self-directed education.

Ashing said he spent hours doing his own research to fill in the gaps. “You find your own nuggets [of knowledge] hang on, ”he said. “I have a deep appreciation for the scientific method, so it’s nice to think that it can impact my approach. “

Brian Ashing’s Balance

After leaving high school, Ashing applied to the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, to study visual arts, but his parents urged him to choose a more traditional course of study.

“I changed my mind at the last minute [based on] advice to have a backup plan, ”he said. With his scientific background, Ashing chose to do environmental science.

Throughout her time at UWI, Ashing continued to paint and network with other artists, participating in joint exhibitions, most recently in April with AJ Rogers, Damian Moore and others, but did only recently started to make art his main focus.

“I didn’t think it was difficult to continue my education,” he said. “[But] it had an impact on me. Now outside of my degree [programme], I realize how much time one can devote to art when there is no finals or different courses to study.

“Creating art during the pandemic in and of itself is strange because there is the pressure of just being a human in the new normal and navigating all of these different rules,” Ashing said. He still felt lucky to have so much free time at his disposal. After graduating last year and with COVID slowing things down in the workforce, Ashing has been a full-time artist since last year, exhibiting and selling his work. In fact, it was through this freedom and ability to focus on his work that he was able to understand how much of a priority art should be in his life.

Brian Ashing’s Consequence

After about a decade of painting, the 27-year-old spoke of the “recent revelation” he had, of the realization that he wanted to take art seriously. “I can’t not do art,” he said. “It’s the only thing that makes me [say], ‘That’s my goal’.

Much of the work on display at the exhibition is taken from “the shared experience of going through the trauma of such a radical life change,” said Ashing. “As an artist, I have been able to tap into this energy.” The artist joked that attendees shouldn’t expect to see face masks in his work. “[There are] no direct allusion [to the pandemic]he said, explaining that the feel of the period, a “dark and calm … a sense of stillness” is what he intended to imbue in the work.

Asked about his influences, Ashing mentioned the work of Dutch masters, including Jan van Eyck, Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt. “What I really like about these ancient works are the different aspects of symbolism that play a role in the [pieces], “he said. Ashing explained how he marveled at the way artists in those periods would encode messages into their work.

He referred to the Italian Renaissance painter, Caravaggio, as someone from whom he was greatly inspired. “He really influenced the work [in this exhibition]. Ashing said he appreciated the way the artist approached Greek ideologies and sought to do something similar. “As a 21st century artist, I approach it in a contemporary way.

Brian Ashing’s medium

But overall, Ashing hopes more than anything that art lovers who attend the exhibition will absorb the desired stillness, the calm emotions woven into the work rather than derive any idea or interpretation from the pieces.

“As I created this job month to month, I wondered what I was trying to say, then realized that I could just have this method [where] I create without having to intellectualize what I’m trying to say. He continued, “With my art it can sometimes be difficult – at least for me – to express in words what I’m trying to do, but when I look [the pieces], I see a line that crosses the body of the work. Ashing wants the work to “invite people to a moment of contemplation.” He added, “There are a lot of small rooms that invite people to come closer to work. Hope people come closer, almost touch their noses to the canvas [to] just have this moment with the pieces. ”.

As for the artist’s favorite subjects, Ashing said it can vary. “I want to represent objects, people, animals, nature. My language is realism, so I strive to make things real or close to reality.

Ashing is excited about the show, but said he already dreams of his next job.

Find out more about the upcoming exhibition or check out Brian Ashing’s work @brianashingart on IG.


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