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Young and Artsy
It can take some people decades to find the courage to be a full-time artist. However, for 23-year-old painter and multimedia artist Richard Rampersad there was no question about what he wanted to do or his courage to do it.
“I am an artist. This is what I’ve chosen to do. Art has become my way of life,” he said during an interview at the University of the West Indies’ Department of Creative and Festival Arts.
Rampersad, who graduated from the UWI this year with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art is taking a practical approach to making a living from his art. Although Rampersad is first and foremost a painter, he explores various types of art and uses his explorations to provide a steady income. Apart from painting, Rampersad also makes jewelery and ceramic items for sale. He also practices Rangoli—Hindu festival art—and is a mehendi applicator. Rampersad also participates in monthly artists’ markets.
Rampersad shared that his love for art grew from a childhood fascination with colour. “That attraction naturally grew into experimentation and that is how I started painting,” he said. While attending Vishnu Boys Hindu College, Rampersad was then able to get his initial formal training in art and made it to the top of his art class at graduation.
Continuing his studies at UWI was another major step for Rampersad. “The degree really opened my eyes and broadened my horizons. I’m no longer limited to drawing and painting. There’s a world of other opportunities for me to explore. It also made me understand formal techniques and structured ways of working out problems and helped me in my artistic maturity.”
Rampersad has also developed as artist by studying other artists. His finds inspiration and influence among artists like Jackie Hinkson, Eddie Bowen, Christopher Cozier, El Anatsui, and Shalini Seeraram. Rampersad connects to Seeraram’s work in particular because of it’s Indian sensibilities—Indian culture and Hinduism are important to Rampersad’s work.
“In Hinduism, art and aesthetics take the forefront. For every one of our rituals, the area must be fully adorned and all that adds to my artistic expression. I don’t do Indian-themed pieces so much, but I take my cues from the colour palette of Indian culture,” he said.
Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of music and the arts, has also been a source of inspiration and guidance for Rampersad.
Keeping all his artistic endeavours organised doesn’t seem to be a problem for Rampersad either.
“With all of these mediums there is a common ground, which is the elements to principals of art. So it’s not a challenge to work on different things at the same time or in different ways because the underlying rule remains the same. It’s all a visual language and it’s all made with harmony and rhythm and from the same energy regardless of the form it takes,” he said.
In the future, Rampersad wants to pursue a master’s of fine art degree and hopes to go into teaching—another aspect of his work that is stemming from Hindu spirituality and the tenet of giving back. “I want to give back to society because people have taught me and I want to do that in return.”
He also believes that art education is important, particularly in suburban and rural communities, because it can contribute to self-sufficiency.
“For instance, people can make bowls instead of going to buy one. It’s also therapeutic.”
Rampersad describes his style as expressionist and says that he leaves it to the viewer to answer the questions posed by his pieces.
“Every brush stroke, or dot or mark I make says something meaningful to the idea I’m trying to get across. A lot of the work I’m doing right now interrogates societal ills and with the work that I did on the human figure there was a lot of questions about women and domestic violence.”
To find out more about Richard Rampersad, visit his Facebook page under Richard Rampersad.