Sadly, although thousands pass right by its façade daily, few people are aware that there’s a National Museum on South Quay in Port of Spain.
Enter the Caribbean’s foremost visual artist, Guy Beckles and instantly, joy abounds.
His current exhibition of “Guynetics” at this venue invites a childish pleasure that is thought provoking, brow creasing and smile-invoking simultaneously. The constant movement of Beckles’ kinetic art sets the heart racing, releasing delightful endorphins into the blood stream, while exploring the many conundrums of society in the mind-space.
But what is kinetic art anyway?
“Kinetics is the science of the relationship between the motion of bodies and the forces acting on them,” said the late, Roger Beckles in the introduction to the book on “Guynetics”, which accompanies the exhibit and explains the artist and his works.
The late Pat Bishop also shared her stirring commentary in the publication:
“To walk into a room full of spinning, whirring, dancing and experience Guy Beckles’ mobile sculpture, is to return to the long forgotten magic of a fairground of childhood fantasy. The shapes and their colors have their own lives slicing through space, creating pattern upon pattern; shape upon shape, always magical and always beguiling. Art persons call this kind of sculpture KINETIC – that is derived from a Greek word which means motion. So that this kind of art allows or enables material bodies and the forces and energy associated with them as they move, to move.”
This energy is almost perceptible from the outside of the unassuming building which temporarily houses his colorful collection of moving wonders and sits just across from the Western end of the transportation hub known as City Gate. Ideally, Beckles’ art should be the centerpiece of this facility and those like it – his “Pan Rising” monument would be on display as a focal point at the Piarco International Airport and/or the Queens Park Savannah– in a perfect world.
Instead, he has been turned down by more institutions and galleries than have agreed to exhibit his art. His heart weighs heavy with the thought of these works never earning their rightful place and being experienced by the masses. Like most yet uncelebrated artists, Beckles is tortured by the power of his inspiration and seeks relief from the burden of his gift in the eyes and smiles of the viewing public.
“Just think of how much more pleasant all that time spent in traffic each day would be,” he mused, while gazing dreamily at “Get Something and Wave”, “if people had something like this to look at on the roundabouts and major intersections; something to set their minds in motion – away from the stress of the day and the situation – and to ease their frustrations.”
With price tags on his pieces ranging from $5,000 – 55,000 and audiences skeptical about the warranty on constantly moving art, its no wonder that Beckles has devised a rental program as well. It’s a somewhat reluctant attempt to capitalize on 32 years of intricate work – a reminder of the commercial evolution of modern civilization.
Ambitiously, the former art teacher dreams not of five-figured cheques and lavish cash advances for new pieces, but of a day when he could fill all public waiting spaces with his works – and thus, maintain a constant audience for the many moving parts.
“I started putting this piece together after my sons had a short stay at a hospital and I observed how sad the children were on the ward,” he explained the inspiration behind “Twice A Child”. “There was nothing to relieve the starkness of the place. There were no toys, no pictures on the walls and barely a smiling face. I started collecting broken toys and eventually created this mini amusement park. I was delighted to see it transform the atmosphere in the hospital and to witness the joy on the children’s faces. There is instant gratification when I complete any of these pieces, but the true joy is in seeing the reactions of others to the work.”
This exhibition will continue to thrill and inspire daily until May 5 at 6 pm, but after that, the pieces may very well return to the dark, dusty confines of Beckles storeroom at home – that is, unless you do something about it. For more on “Guynetics” and Guy Beckles work, please visit: www.guybecklesart.com.