Home   >   Articles   >   Yello Interviews Caymanian Artist Gordon Solomon

Yello Interviews Caymanian Artist Gordon Solomon

by Chantel DaCosta Feb 7, 2022

Share this
Caymanian artist Gordon Solomon
Caymanian artist Gordon Solomon

Caymanian artist Gordon Solomon has been interested in art since he was a young child growing up in Rock Hole, George Town. Now a fixture in the ever-evolving Caymanian art scene, Gordon shared some time with Yello to tell us about his artistic style, his thoughts on the Caymanian art scene, and what new work he has planned this year.

Please describe yourself in a single sentence.

I may seem intimidating and observant, but I am really a lover of peace, searching for like-minded persons.

Tell us about your childhood.

My childhood was spent in Rock Hole, in central George Town, where grass piece and cattle grazed to the north and most homes had quaint gardens. I lived in one of those gardens, and as a child, all manner of fruit was available by my papa’s yard. Back then, I had three siblings who were all raised by my papa. My first love for art began with the crayon – the mix of pastel and wax was appealing to me more than paint.

Were you always interested in art?

Absolutely. As I grew, art grew with me. Most of my first inspirations came from fashion – patterns, designs, and colour combinations. Later in my pre-teens, Archie comics caught my attention, and then MAD magazine got me into practicing with inks on paper. My interest in creating intuitive art began with my graphic designs. At the age of 15, I had a vision to design various posters with uplifting verses or adages, I created about 75. Then I met oil paints.

Artwork by Gordon Solomon
Artwork by Gordon Solomon

How would you describe your artistic style?

Over time I have managed to develop approaches to different subjects, for example, my most notable works are painted in what I like to call ‘Spots of Light’, which I use primarily for Caymanian-themed landscapes. Another style is ‘Cubist’, where my original sketches are turned into three-dimensional compositions with whimsical, spiritual, and political thoughts. Other artistic styles include ‘Knife and Sand’, with this style I use our island sand with my oil paints (see ‘Sugar Hooves’); ‘Light Brush’ (see ‘By the Beach’). These are the main styles I have, and I specialise in impressionism.

What are your thoughts on the Caymanian art scene?

The Cayman art scene…well it can be defined in two ways. One, Cayman’s first art scene was based on survival – the making of wammpas (slippers) from car tyres with silver thatch twine for the toes and goatskin for the sole. Also, the making of baskets were an art form long before “art forms” were defined ̶ and the art of constructing ships from natural wood. But these artists are now becoming harder to find in our modern Cayman.

The next art scene would be considered a Visual Arts foundation. Before any galleries there were a few Caymanians and expat artists doing their work for the love of expression, notably, Gladwyn Bush and Ed Oliver did intuitive and landscape works. The galleries began to trickle in, starting in the early 1990s, most have come and gone except for Al Studio and the Cayman Islands National Gallery.

Another interesting reality is the influx of people to Grand Cayman, some looking for work, some connecting with family, yet a lot of these people become artists and sell art without tax or hindrance. If I had to estimate the ratio, there are about 30 true Caymanians competing/partnering/ sharing the same space as “non-Caymanian” artists. All in all, the art scene is amazing, it is growing and evolving.

What local artists do you admire?

Luelan Bodden. This guy makes 3D models from wood; most memorable is “the leg” – covered in veins, entrails exposed, and blood all painted in an unforgettable mess.

What advice would you give aspiring Caribbean artists?

Each talent contributes to their society in their way, in their time. Some gifts come by nature, and some by nurture, yet both require diligence to attain any results. Be professional and organise your portfolio so people can take you seriously.

What three things do you love the most about the Cayman Islands?

Firstly, there is no threat of war. Secondly, the sky at night is brilliant in Cayman Brac; and thirdly, the National Energy Policy 2019 which started initiatives to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste.

Painting by Gordon Solomon
Painting by Gordon Solomon

What are your plans over the next 12-18 months?

Some of my plans include doing a series on “Homes to Parking Lots” a look at who lived in the homes in the area of Rock Hole and the School Road area of Grand Cayman, which has seen an increase in the demolition of homes turned into parking lots in the last 20 years.

Also, creating part two to “Life on the Colony”, a series dealing with the issues facing the people of the Cayman Islands and what is spoken of on a national level as it pertains to our governance.

What are some of your hobbies?

Jogging and cycling.

Where do you go to relax?

The ocean and our garden.

What is your philosophy/approach to life?

Good things happen to good people.

You can view Gordon’s work on his website, www.gordonsolomon.com and connect with him on Facebook, www.facebook.com/GordonSolomonFineArt and Instagram @gordonjsolomon.