Ronald Cyrille

Caribbean Linked III was my first artist residency experience and it was a great adventure where I learned a lot from others and from the island.

This opportunity allowed me to be with eleven other young artists and enjoy professional coaching by Holly Bynoe, Elvis López, Annalee Davis or Natalie McGuire which made this gathering even more memorable and a great human adventure. My project during these three weeks has been defined by visits and contacts with the population of Aruba. So my approach was not to change my work, but to see how it would be affected by these new landscapes where at first glance it was difficult not to notice the dramatic presence of the cacti in the arid soil which seems barren and the colors rather whitish.

It was an adventure that I didn’t live alone but with eleven other young creatives of the Caribbean. We took the time to exchange, to see where our similarities and our differences laid. We also talked a lot about our respective islands and each of our artistic approaches. This was the time for meeting.

It was an important moment which brought us out of the isolation so as to put ourselves in “orbit”. The Caribbean is this place of fragmented stories which feed my imagination and allow me to tell stories that have their own coherences, like a storyteller in front of its audience. To be physically in Aruba was an occasion for me to put my work in dialogue with those of artists from here and elsewhere in the Caribbean. It was also the opportunity to consider our resemblances and our differences as if, in what is foreign, in this somewhere else, I was looking for what there was familiar. I was very excited to see what Aruba looked like outside the postcards imagery and curious to see its flora and fauna. I often questioned the bestiary in my plastic searches and I wanted to see those of Aruba. The landscapes are vast and mountains are cleared. I was struck by these landscapes, so big and “so empty” at the same time.

I decided at first to find out about the places  I visited, which I was going to sketch afterward, to tell my journey. During my travels, I collected certain elements, such as a day ticket to the park,  that I integrated afterward into the series of the works of small formats. Thus this series appears as a “travel diary” but at the same time, put in connection with my work, it takes the dimension of a storyboard with its own logic. Drawing gave me the opportunity to experiment with new figures and to enrich my plastic vocabulary and my  “Abécédaire” (alphabet) (cf. exhibitionBrainstormings, 2015 at Fondation Clement).

Ronald Cyrille ‘Quadirikiri Caves’, photo by Rebecca Roos

Ronald Cyrille ‘Quadirikiri Caves’, photo by Rebecca Roos

Further to this series of drawings, I decided to move to larger format painting where I worked freely around the figure of the bestiary. This is above all to talk about my personal experience, my feelings, what animated me but also undermined me on the island. Finally I will say that it was a set of “brainstormings” of Aruba.

My work was then presented in three parts: The first part was a series of drawings that allow me to select and identify a certain number of elements. The second part, a painting on paper where I could experiment with collage, scraping, integration of the wallpaper, etc. However I was somewhat frustrated by the result, because I found my composition too central and it lacked risk-taking. I then decided to go back to work on a medium that allowed me to feel more comfortable. Thus, the paintings depict the various elements seen, and establishes a dialogue between and within them. Finally, I would say that the last part revolved around Street Art. Art in the public space. After doing some city trips, I was very surprised by the lack of public art, lots of blank walls of abandoned houses. It gave me the sensation that everyone there is “disciplined”.

In Street Art circles, we used to say: “A white wall equals mute people.” I wanted to invest in them, to democratize my art practice in some way. Create a closeness to the people and finally give them a voice. This work allowed me to act and interact with the place where I was at a specific time. It was a way to extend my practice, my visibility but also the work at Ateliers ’89. Aruba was definitely an opportunity to expand my research by testing various approaches to visual arts. It was a time that offered me many opportunities while questioning my usual and generally solitary practice.

About Ronald:

Ronald Cyrille is a young artist of Guadeloupean and Dominican heritage who practices painting, street art, sculpture, drawing, performance and other artworks. After completing his Master of Art (2012), he has shown work in several group and solo exhibitions. In 2012 he was announced the winner of the Prix Start, Conseil Départemental de la Guadeloupe, in Visual Arts.