Lotus of July

Conversations on art

In this their 16th Conversation on Art, Artists Stanley Greaves AA and Akima McPherson discuss Bernadette Persaud’s Lotus of July.

Akima McPherson: In several of Bernadette Persaud’s paintings she features the lotus, often as a dominant element. The lotus, she says, serves as a point of departure for exploring philosophy and her background. In Lotus of July, the lotus is a personal symbol of time and transience; the beauty of the flower after blooming disappears in three to four days, she notes. The lotus, therefore, becomes a source of contemplation for ideas such as permanence and impermanence, time and timelessness, beauty and decay.


Lotus of July Bernadette Persaud Oil on canvas 1991 (Photo courtesy of the artist)
Lotus of July Bernadette Persaud Oil on canvas 1991 (Photo courtesy of the artist)

Stanley Greaves: This painting is quite an impressive work taken from several viewpoints. At first glance, the green colour of the large leaves predominate, softened a bit by a few brown ones. I take this painting to be a reference to the theme of transcendence, which makes it an ideal object for contemplating the nature of existence as it affects everything, animate and inanimate alike. The very application of the paint leads me to this conclusion. It becomes a question of not just looking at the painting but looking into it. The eye is engaged as a means of looking both at the painting and engaging with thoughts of a non-visual nature that emerge. The state of feeling.


AM: Lotus of July, is a beautiful image for meditation – for looking and quiet contemplation. One can see imaged within it, the passage of time. Lotus are shown as closed buds, as opening buds, as buds fully opened and gloriously beautiful, and as flowers losing their pink petals. An entire birth and death cycle is imaged here. All this happens above a fray of brown and green leaves. The warmth of the light that bathes the scene adds another dimension to the spiritual implications of the image.


SG: Persaud is a true painter in the way she uses paint. I make a distinction between someone who simply paints pictures and one who puts more into it through a deep understanding of what the nature of paint is.

This means that Persaud does not just paint pictures. The viewer is brought into direct contact with the nature of paint and the way it has been used to explore convey a chosen theme. The brushstrokes are not hidden. There is evidence of the hand of the painter, one can sense the energy used. In Lotus of July the viewer is being invited to participate in an adventure involving eye, mind and spirit. The viewer is therefore not being entertained but being offered a chance to go beyond that.


AM: Please explain your last comment regarding the viewer not being entertained.


SG: Entertained – meaning visually interested by colour alone.

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