Images: island*atelier
Richard Mark Rawlins lets us have a look inside the workings of his mind with his latest show Steupps!, an exhibition of new work which is showing at the Medulla gallery in Port of Spain, Trinidad until today.  Rawlins, a graphic designer, contemporary artist and the publisher of online arts magazine Draconian Switch, marks his fifth solo exhibition with the show which examines the viewer's reaction to body language through the indigenous shortcuts for relaying annoyance or irritation. A "steupps" is a local expression of disdain which is made by sucking air through one's teeth very quickly and a "meggie" is a hand gesture which is intended to be a symbol of disrespect when given to another person (or self-deprecation when done to oneself.

On the surface, the show feels lighthearted and irreverent but on closer inspection, Rawlins reveals some highly personal pieces including a portrait of his father. Among the brightly coloured artworks our favourite pieces were the large, graphic portraits of Rawlins' friends and fellow artists including Rodell Warner and Ashraph which were mounted on board and anchored with bottle caps, the lino-printed repeated image of fingers in the shape of the meggie, and "Pointless", the neverending pencil as Ouroboros.

One of Rawlins' objectives was to modify the gallery experience by allowing more audience involvement in his show. To facilitate this, audience participation was encourged on the opening night (and throughout the course of the show's run to a lesser degree). At the launch, the artist invited members of the public to wear screenprinted Steupps! bandannas as masks to partially obscure the face.  He feels that the bandanna, which was once a purely functional item, has been appropriated by gang culture and transformed into an object which can be equal parts symbolic and menacing. Viewers of the show were also asked to write and submit an artist's statement or observations on Rawlins' work and to leave these comments in chamberpots which had been decorated for the purpose.


 
Images: island*atelier



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