By Katie McElveen
From gastronomic delights to live music experiences, there are plenty of reasons for culture aficionados to visit St. Barth. Yet another: the island’s art scene, where an influx of local artists have taken the island’s art offerings well beyond traditional wood carvings and paintings of island scenes.
Consider sculptor Jean Martin, a former video editor who has found his muse in the tangible qualities of metal and wood. The most striking of his works is a new series of glittering, life-size human bodies that combine both classical and modern influences. Or photographer Fanxi Delaru, whose most recent project, Beyond the Sea, is a series of oversized abstract depictions of St. Barth’s beaches printed on aluminum.
The catalyst for these sweeping changes is Artists of St. Barth, a four-year-old organization that promotes, exhibits and sells the work of local artists. “When we started, we had just two artists. Today, we have 50,” says Emmanuel Leprince, who runs Artists of St. Barth. “Before we arrived, many of our galleries only featured the work of artists from the US and Europe. Now, they represent artists with ties to St. Barth as well. It’s been a benefit for everyone.”
Modern masterpieces from these artists can be found throughout the island. Le Guanahani’s art collection includes a pair of colorful crocodiles holding a capital letter G, created especially for the resort by Richard Orlinkski, whose faceted sculptures of animals have been rendered in everything from silver (by French luxury homeware manufacturer Christolfle) to colorful resin and bronze. In November of 2016, to mark Le Guanahani’s 30th anniversary, the resort commissioned a colorful, large-scale painting by JonOne in his signature expressionist graffiti style.
Photo: Richard Orlinkski
Along with stylish galleries such as Artists of St. Barth, Space SBH, Clic (a project of Calypso founder Christiane Celle) and Eden Fine Art, St. Barth offers visitors a number of unique ways to take in the island’s flourishing art scene. A favorite are the monthly art and food markets, which feature original artworks, local handicrafts and a greenmarket with street food prepared by local chefs. The markets are held on the third Sunday of the month from 10am until 2pm at Pati’s Deck in St. Jean.
Art Week, which takes place in February, is a series of installations by five different artists in five different luxury resorts around the island. This year, art aficionados saw the island through the keen eyes of five photographers: Antoine Veglas used triptychs (or three panels of art) to juxtapose nature and the human form, and Laurent Benoit transformed individual shells into works of art with his intimate, stark close-ups. Pierre Carreau created a study of St. Barth’s signature turquoise hue with ocean and beach photographs, while Michael Gramm highlighted the dramatic natural texture and composition of the beach by shooting in black and white. Fanxi Delaru also used water and sand as her muse in her aluminum-printed beach photographs.
“People are always surprised by the level of contemporary art on the island,” says Leprince. “We are fortunate to have so many talented artists with a connection to St. Barth and so many ways to showcase their work.”
About the Contributor
Travel and lifestyle writer Katie McElveen discovered the joy of wandering when, as a teenager, she made a wrong turn in rural South Carolina on the way to a family vacation and ended up taking back roads nearly all the way to the beach. Since then, she hasn’t stopped exploring, although she now travels with a map and more than $3.00 in cash. Based in Columbia, South Carolina, Katie has shared her discoveries through her work in magazines such as Real Simple, Business Traveler, Modern Bride, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons, Town & Country, Southern Living, Spa and Tennis.