Artist Thierry Lamare - Capturing a Bygone Era
Compelled to record the quiet dignity of Bahamian islanders' day-to-day life, Thierry Lamare's realistic watercolours eloquently capture a vanishing way of life.
Words by Natasha Were
Artist Thierry Lamare paints life - the ordinary, and often hard, day-to-day life of individuals who have carved out a simple existence on the outer islands of The Bahamas. Intensely realistic, his vivid portrayals of islanders going about their daily chores are neither posed nor embellished, but instead document a way of life.
Working mainly in watercolours, which he builds up in layers using a dry brush technique, Lamare paints candid scenes of men and women fishing, crabbing, gathering meagre crops from their farms, or simply chatting. But it is not only their activities that he so eloquently reproduces on canvas and driftwood: it is the quiet dignity, pride and strength – both inner and outer – of his subjects that shine through in his work.
Indeed, it is not enough for his subjects to be engaged in a task, according to the painter. "I need to react emotionally to my subjects," he explains. "It helps me to stay creative." He never knows when that emotional chord will be struck, or why, but when he senses it deep in his gut, he is often compelled to paint the same subject over and over again, as is the case with Ophelia, now 91 years old, whom he has been painting for over ten years.
Although the Parisian-born artist has been drawing for as long as he can remember, and studied art, interior design and architecture in France, it was not until he arrived in The Bahamas in 1985, that he felt an undeniable compulsion to paint, to recreate the colours, the culture and the people he found there. Almost 30 years on, the need to put paint on canvas has not waned. "I simply cannot live without it," he says.
Many of his paintings are the result of field trips taken to the more remote islands where he encountered a humble, more primitive way of life. In the same way that a historian or ethnographer records in minute detail, for posterity, the way life is lived, Lamare's paintings capture, in a single image, a unique and fast-disappearing existence.
"Having had the privilege to witness what used to be integral aspects of Bahamian life for past generations, I wanted to eternalise it, leaving some kind of trace on paper," the artist explains. "If my work could be a modest contribution to Bahamian heritage, then I will have achieved something."
To view more of Lamare's work, visit: www.thierrylamare.com
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