Sat | Jul 11, 2020

Mazola transforms pieces from junk to gem

Published:Friday | December 20, 2019 | 12:15 AMPaul H. Williams/Gleaner Writer
‘Resurrection’ – beads, ceramic and metal.
‘Resurrection’ – beads, ceramic and metal.

The artist Mazola spends his life collecting junk from all over the place, and he is not afraid to be seen rummaging through a garbage heap, removing things that are no longer of use to the people who threw them away.

“So, people might think you are mad?” was the question.

“I am mad,” he replied, without any attempt to smile.

It is the sort of madness that drives him to turn these ‘useless’ pieces of refuse into thought-provoking, jaw-dropping, ultra-creative works of art.

And from November 16 to December 8, he had the first exhibition in ‘The Playground’ at Craig Hill in east rural St Andrew to expose his versatility.

In this space, Mazola plays with a variety of media and ‘rescued’ materials – cutting, bending, welding, soldering, pasting, shaping, sculpting and manifesting them into pieces that you will not find anywhere else in this unfolding universe.

Visitors got a chance to see the evolutionary stages of his creative process. It was a most revealing moment to see the junk neatly stored at different spots and juxtaposed with the gems that he had created from them – from the storage enclosures, to the working areas, to the exhibition space. And all around there were pieces that were not in the show, but could have well been.

“This is the place where the work was created, so it gives people a totally different feel,” The Edna Manley College graduate noted.

Aptly called ‘Versatile’, “celebrating the multi-dimensional nature of his work”, the show demonstrated the Kenyan-Jamaican ability to paint, to assemble, to sculpt, to weld, to design and make jewellery, among other craft ideas.

“I am very versatile in terms of my approach to work and stuff. That’s what I wanted to say, a celebration of my versatility, my different approaches,” the former primary-school teacher said. “But, at the same time, it is another way of showing how all those different techniques come together.”

The different techniques and approaches resulted in pieces at which you cannot make a cursory glance and move on. You are forced to go closer, stare, to wonder, to ask questions, and then you feel your fingers twitching to touch, for they are very tactile.

ADVENTURE IN EXPERIMENTATION

In addition to the individual pieces, there were artistic installations, two of which were suspended from a metal bar and extended to the floor, telling a variety of stories, some of which are personal and familial to the artist, who was deliberate in the choice of media.

“Whether in painting, mixed media, sculpture, or assemblage, each piece is an adventure in experimentation. Each piece is a fusion of many stories into one simplified and presented through the voice of a child,” he says in his artist’s statement.

While it was not his first solo studio show, the man who has exhibited in Italy, Kenya, Barbados, the United Kingdom, the United States, Bangladesh, Antigua, Trinidad and Tobago, said it was his first at The Playground, where there was no restriction of space and time, and the paying of commission, as is the case of mounting in other people’s place.

He supports galleries, all right, but Mazola also said, “At my age, I should be able to do certain things to control my own life as an artist.”

Though the show has officially ended, the pieces have not been dismounted, and the doors to The Playground are still open for those who want to see Mazola’s versatility unfold.

“It’s been good and the work has engaged the people, and the people were encouraging,” Mazola said in retrospect.