While working on a series of study pieces towards creating paintings of angels for the local charitable organisation the Living Water Community, Glenn Roopchand was told that Pat Bishop had passed away. This inspired the multi-faceted artist to create an angel in memory of the woman he had known since his childhood.
This painting was one of the works unveiled at his exhibition titled, Angel of La Trinity at the Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago headquarters Federation Park, St Clair on March 18. The launch took the form of a brunch where guests had the opportunity to relax and enjoy light conversation.
The exhibition which closes today features 44 pieces created by Roopchand using acrylics and mixed media. Among them are some three-dimensional pieces in which he used beads and other materials to highlight aspects of the angels he created. The mission for Living Water was to create angels that had a local outlook or flavour for their chapel.
"I was so inspired by the idea that I ended up creating about 40 study pieces before doing the actual paintings that were given to Living Water. While I was doing these someone told be that Pat had died and I ended up doing an angel that was inspired by her because I had known Pat since childhood. The entire collection of angels including the ones for Living Water took me about three months to complete," Roopchand said.
Now one would think that 44 paintings on exhibit would be for an artist the main event for some time. But Roopchand told the Express that this exhibition is but a prelude to something major he has planned for early next year. Roopchand has begun work on a collection he was inspired to do by this very project he has on show at the Art Society. He was also moved to do this forthcoming collection by his growing love for country and culture.
"Early next year I am coming home to present a collection named, From Calypso to Mythology. This was inspired by the music of David Rudder and it will be an introspective study of who we are as Trinidadians and Tobagonians. Living in America, outside my culture, has taught me to love and appreciate my culture even more. Although I have been living abroad, there is nothing foreign in my work. It's always been completely local.
"This love that I have for my country and culture has transformed into an ambitious project. I want to show that we have to stray away from the colonial concept of what calypso is; some old man with a guitar. Calypso is the connection to a universal understanding of ourselves. People out in foreign mythologise themselves and become their own gods."
"We have to see ourselves as such here. There is a line in one of David's (Rudder) songs that says, for nine months he listened to his mother's heartbeat and that heartbeat transforms into who we are today. This calypso is who we are no matter where we are anywhere in the world. The Living Water project became the catalyst for this coming exhibition," Roopchand said.
Roopchand said it was always the intention to return to Trinidad. Even when he and his wife were preparing to migrate they knew it was only for a time. Roopchand said that as one grows older things develop and plans end up being altered. Relationships are formed, Children get married and grandchildren are born and you find
yourself with new roots. Coming home, however, is still in the cards.
Roopchand taught for about fours years in New Jersey, but now works as a full time artist from his home studio. Roopchand worked alongside Carlisle Chang for some years and assisted Chang in the creation of the historical mural titled, The Inherent Nobility of Man that was installed at the Piarco International Airport in 1962. The mural was destroyed in 1977 during a construction project at the airport and Roopchand was in 2006 commissioned by the then Ministry of Culture to recreate it.
Roopchand studied at Pratt University and Art Students League both in New York, returning to Trinidad in the late 1970's and taught art in secondary school for several years. He exhibited at local galleries throughout the island over the years and has also been featured in group and solo exhibitions around the world over the years. Roopchand also holds a BFA in Studio Art from Montclair State University. His work has been featured at the renowned Medgar Evers College in New York.