The Art of Caribs
THE GREAT CARIBBEAN SEA HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN IMPORTANT REFERENCE IN THE LIFE OF ISLANDERS THAT HAVE LIVED ON THE ANTILLES BELT OVER THE CENTURIES
Its first agro-potter settlers, the Igneris –insular Arawaks–, left their mark in white and red on earthenware, thus representing the sea, its waters, waves, fish, hurricanes, myths and cosmology.
Pictography has preserved those first illustrations, as well as painted vessels, sculpted stones and finely carved woods.
Afterwards, Teodoro de Bry's first engravings, regarding the conquest, show that indomitable and wild sea, around myths and chimeras.
The fact is that island artists have tended to painting their sea, unlike such world-famous figures as Goya, Velazquez, Durero, Rembrand, Miguel Angel and Leonardo da Vinci, who never included sea in their artworks.
Sea painter artists, landscape painters of the water in the Caribbean Sea have been in love with their sea, dreamlike dawns and sunsets, they have witnessed pro-independence heroic deeds in naval history, famous shipwrecks or the dreams and ideals of the Republic's Founding Father, Juan Pablo Duarte.
Painting the sea has never been an easy task and artists are required to show great technical mastery. Transparences, patinas, lights and shadows, perspectives and proportions, are some of the difficulties to transmit the dramatic quality demanded to “let the sea get into the painting” as the main subject of the creation.
The sea, our Caribbean Sea, is temperamental, vigorous, dynamic, quiet with northerly winds, wild and treacherously prone to hurricanes, always a challenge for those who dare to paint it, since the demands are numerous.
As for drawing, not many dare to reflect its history as lines drown surrounded by live waves or feel the pain when colliding with reefs.
Sea painting has been properly cultivated by some of our best Dominican painting masters: Luis Dessangles, Abelardo Piñeiro, Joseph Gausachs, George Hausdorf, Clara Ledesma, Ada Balcacer, Fernando Peña Defillo, Guillo Perez, Yoryi Morel, Jose Garcia Cordero, Jose Cesteros, Fermin Ceballos, among others.
The sea as a pictorial subject, inspiration theme, must be assessed in depth, since its origins, by studying the gorgeous strokes of Igneris vessels, pictography marks in caves and their mythical/religious language, complex labyrinthine figures on rocks or finely carved woods.
In an island environment with a long and sinuous profile, with beautiful bays, quiet coves and picture-perfect beaches, the art of sea or pictorial sea painting makes us recall that map of Admiral of Ocean Sea, known as “the scratch”, where precise lines mark the outlines of Mount of Christ and stamps a Templar cross on it.
There is no similarity among the artist that sails and paints, those island Arawak or Carib sailors that used to cross the wide sea on their canoes with over 70 rowers in order to reflect their gods and believes, and modern creators that have sea as another reference in the landscape of a composition.
The Caribbean Sea, on this magical island, has been, is and will be a model for painters, sculptors, engravers and drawers, whether it is quiet or wild.
“They went to take Yaya's pumpkin, where her son Yayael was, who had become fish, and none
of them dared to touch it except for Deminan Caracaracol, who took it down and they stuffed themselves with fish. While they were eating, they felt that Yaya was coming and tried to hang the pumpkin back, but they didn't do it correctly so it fell to the ground and broke. They say that there was so much water coming out of the pumpkin, it flooded the land and countless fish swam away; that is said to be the origin of the sea.” Fray Ramon Pane, Chronicler of the Indies
“Marina”, Josep Gausachs.