Fresh from his recent exhibition earlier this year in New York City, artist Gordon Solomon has been busy creating a new body of work which cleverly details some of the simplest scenes of Cayman life.
“DUS – Dogs, Umbrellas and Swings” challenges the viewer to travel around Grand Cayman through Solomon’s artwork as he takes the mundane views that rarely enter our consciousness during our busy daily life and brings them suddenly into sharp focus.
A regular face in Cayman’s art scene, Solomon has been exhibiting his artwork for many years, both in group exhibitions at venues such as the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman’s, The Gallery, and in solo shows such as the “DUS” exhibition at Full of Beans café. He has also twice taken his unique style to New York City, showcasing his talents most recently at the Art Expo in April.
A proponent of pointillism (in which small distinct dots of pure color are applied in patterns to form an image), Solomon’s “spots of light” technique offers viewers a stylized view of everyday Cayman scenes, both contemporary and those of yesteryear.
“DUS – Dogs, Umbrellas and Swings” marks a slight variance in Solomon’s usual pointillism style. Still working in his favored medium of oil, Solomon has created works for his latest exhibition using thick layers of paint, carefully crafted to create texturally pleasing paintings that encapsulate not only the colors of Cayman, but perhaps even more importantly, the light, shimmer, dust and heat as well.
The subjects – dogs, umbrellas and swings – represent what Solomon sees as at the heart of Cayman during the sweltering summer months.
“At this time of year, everyone is trying to find shade, or trying to get rid of the dust,” Solomon says. “I wanted to create a series that showed that. My favorite animals are dogs, so I wanted to highlight them in the heat as well. In addition, I then wanted to extend the idea to include work that shows the summer rains arriving.”
The result is 13 paintings, which are small in scale compared with some of the artist’s previous works.
Solomon picks his subjects from all over Grand Cayman, but his main focus is the George Town and Savannah areas.
Viewing his work, you get the definite feeling that you have “been there before” but may not have realized it. Each painting is a glimpse into someone’s front garden that you may have passed by but not registered, or a peek over a white picket fence into a yard.
“Dogs, Umbrellas and Swings” is the title piece for a painting as well, and captures the mood of the entire so-named show. A dog lies lazily on an outdoor swing under an umbrella while the rain lashes outdoors. But look closer and you realize that this is part of a painted scene in which Solomon has included his own hand and pencil, outlining the germ of an idea for the entire body of work, its stark black background lending more prominence to the subject matter at hand.
Then the viewer begins a journey around Cayman: “Crossing Holiness” shows an individual walking past the Wesleyan Holiness Church in George Town, protecting herself with an umbrella from the heat of the sun’s rays. “Man’s friend, bed” is taken from a scene on Smith Road.
“As much as I love dogs, I believe, unlike my wife, that they should be outdoors, so I decided to paint a dog sleeping outside the front door in the dust,” Solomon says.
The artist’s favorite piece in the collection is “East or North,” featuring a dog walker being pulled in two directions by his two dogs. It’s a pleasing study of the subject, but what makes the painting really work is the fact that Solomon has managed to capture the movement and energy of the situation through his built-up layers of oil.
“Swing on Shedden” is a respite from the shimmering haze of heat.
“Even a swing can bring you a little relief in the heat,” Solomon says. The theme is continued with “Rest time” taken from a scene in North Side, detailing an altogether slower pace of life and an interesting peek into someone’s yard with a garden swing.
“Two to Town” again cleverly portrays the heat haze and shows two commuters in town, protecting themselves from the heat with their umbrellas in a hurry to begin their day.
The summer rains, which at least break the heat and dust, bring with them increased levels of humidity, and this break in the weather is well recorded in a number of Solomon’s paintings in this exhibition, especially “Path to Work,” which shows the rain hitting an umbrella, a particular annoyance for Cayman’s commuters who walk to work.
“DUS – Dogs, Umbrellas and Swings” is a highly collectable ensemble that truly does justice to the atmosphere, dust, humidity and sky-high temperatures during the island’s summer months. It’s a meaningful account of our everyday world brought to life with a keen eye, a good handful of wit and intelligence, and artistic skill.
The exhibition runs through July.