Artist Kvita Mongroo will be launching her first collection of paper collage and mixed media artwork with Soft Box Gallery in St Clair from October 1–15, 2022.
The show’s title “We swore…that we would never leave the island” is an excerpt from Derek Walcott’s poem Another Life.
Mongroo who is a Trinidadian/Canadian artist shares, “For the title of my first solo exhibition I was searching for the right words to encompass the powerful effect that a life in the West Indies can have on you. After some research I came across a line in Walcott’s Another Life and was immediately struck by memories of my grief at leaving Trinidad for the second time as an adult.
“In his prophetic words, ‘We swore…that we would never leave the island…’ was the promise I made to myself at that time: never to forget those enormous mango tree roots in the primary school yard where we sat and spoke with the naïve certainty that life could only get more beautiful.”
Mongroo creates her masterful collages through a careful process of tearing paper (no scissors) and layering it to create semi abstractions of objects and scenes on canvas. She sometimes incorporates acrylic and spray paint for background effects.
Artist Kvita Mongroo at work in her garden.
While studying art at Naparima Girls’ High School, she took her earliest inspiration from Jackie Hinkson and Lisa O’Connor, admiring the effortless appearance of light in their work. Like them, her current work primarily focuses on still life and scenery in the West Indies. She believes that the lightness of the enriched but relaxed atmosphere of the Caribbean is best captured through the innocence and imprecision of the paper collage medium. This meticulous technique allows for a deceptively simple play of colour, pattern and texture, resulting in the joyful mosaic that is island life. More than a decade of work has culminated in this, her first collection.
Women in paper collage is something Mongroo would like to celebrate as collage is an art form often overlooked, stemming from artists as early as Mary Delaney (1700 – 1788) who as a British artist arguably pioneered intricate paper collage though it was not accepted as a serious art form until Matisse dabbled in it almost 100 years later. The internationally celebrated Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu beg her career primarily with paper collage cut from magazines focused on the female form.
There are other female artists closer to home like Marguerite Wyke (1908 – 1995) who included aspects of paper collage in her mixed media work, and Tonia St Cyr who works extensively with paper.
“I really stand on the shoulders of these women who saw the fragile beauty and versatility of paper as a medium. My work is always evolving and there is so much more I want to communicate. I am especially concerned with issues of environmental degradation and would hate for my work to become a moratorium for what used to be. I hope that people leave the show with renewed devotion to protecting our collective West Indian heritage, whether we are talking about the natural landscape, architecture or various celebrations.
This exhibition seeks to capture the intangible essence those of us lucky enough to be born in the island light know all about. To truly absorb the magic of your existence on a beautiful island is the challenge I am presenting,” she said.
Opening night reception: Saturday October 1, 6 pm-8.30 pm. The exhibition runs from October 1 to October 15.