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Experimental artistreturns with new exhibition

Sunday, February 19, 2017
Contemporary artist Rodell Warner.

Contemporary artist Rodell Warner’s work is far from ordinary and uses different media to express multiple ideas, which makes it hard for him to explain his art and intentions.

“Absolutely anything everywhere,” Warner said in a 2014 interview when asked what serves as a starting point for his work.

“I don’t really have a process per se,” he continued. “And all the things that I do are so different from each other that it’s kinda hard to draw a line from one to the other to say where it came about.”

Three years later, Warner still isn’t explaining his work. It has to be experienced, he said. Asked about his new exhibition, The Most Corrupting Notion Ever Captured in a Dream, which runs until Tuesday at Alice Yard in Woodbrook, Warner said: “I can’t describe it. It’s something you need to see.”

In a post on their blog, Alice Yard describes the work this way: “In recent months, artist Rodell Warner has been making a collection of painted objects exploring relationships between black and white, ‘as between off and on, living and nonliving, figure and ground, the way 1 and 0 signal off and on in transistors/computer language.’’

The post is illustrated with a photo of what looks like a large seashell painted in black and white stripes.

Warner started his creative career designing T-shirts, then he worked at an ad agency. He began taking photographs, then he began digitally manipulating photographs. His last solo exhibition at Alice Yard, 2013’s Year of the Snake Eating Itself, featured gifs, images (often popular on social media) that are a cross between photography and video and convey memes or ideas. The exhibition also included zines—handmade magazines—filled with images reflecting life in T&T.

“I just got into this whole world of making things in all the different ways you can make things,” he said in 2014.

Warner’s work is often interactive and meant to explore different aspects of human experience.

His project, Photobooth, part of 2009’s Erotic Art Week, invited the audience to take pictures of themselves in sensual poses with partners.

As part of a 2014 residency in New Local Space in Kingston, Warner used photos he took in nature to produce patterns that he printed on fabric. He then invited other artists and designers to create different things with his patterns.

For his project Closer, conducted in 2009 and 2011 in Port-of-Spain and Johannesburg, respectively, he asked strangers to make eye contact and captured the moment on camera.

“That literally came about because I’m walking around Port-of-Spain afraid of making eye contact with people and wondering if other people have the same issue...or how they deal with it,” he said in 2014.

“I’m thinking about my own life…and what I’m concerned with at the moment,” he continued. “And an idea will come up of how to engage it or learn more about it or think about it or share it with other people, and then I make a project and share it. And that’s how it goes.”

In the interview, conducted by the NLS while Warner was on his residency there, he was reluctant to pinpoint a single driving force behind his work.

“It changes all the time,” he said. “As I live and go through my life…I learn things and I put it into the work. I feel if I give an answer it wouldn’t be true. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m doing many things is what it truly feels like.”


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