Sat | Mar 24, 2018

Dready drives into Kingston

Published:Sunday | February 7, 2016 | 12:00 AM
I have a story to tell in everything I paint – Shane Aquart relates his inspirations.
An old-time institution in The Cayman Islands – Shane Aquart’s creation of ‘Jacko’s Auto’.
Swaggerific – Shane Aquart’s animated creation, simple, colourful and playful.
The Rover keeps popping up. Shane Aquart and his favourite offroader captured in canvas with Dready at the wheel.
‘Rattlepan an’ Bangarang – a Range Rover-inspired creation by Shane Aquart.
Amitabh Sharma

With a mane extending to the shoulders, shades straddled up the forehead, faded jeans, and a flannel shirt, what could possibly go missing but the lead guitar? Not in this case. Paintbrush and palette fit this profile of Shane Aquart.

Aquart passed by his country of birth last month to showcase the adventures of his character personified 'Dready', in various hues, settings, locales and situations.

"I am a busy draw-er (like Dready, a word possibly coined by him and certainly not associated with the retractable shelves to store garments)," he says. "I am constantly creating new print series to add diversity to dreadyness."

Dreadyness, this time, was in Kingston for a Republic Bank (Cayman) Ltd-sponsored show at the Liguanea Club. "If you're an artist, you do art shows, don't it? It's the job. You meet and greet and show off the art you've done," he said. The 'job', like people in the creative industry, is one done out of love and passion.

Aquart's trademark is simplicity, a mix of childlike showcases of situations that are colourful, playful, and animated. In Kingston, he showcased works that have been inspired by Jamaica and different locales across the world.

"I draw Dready art in two ways," he said. "Simple stick figures and evolved characters, all the while maintaining a sort of innate simplicity to show that 'duplicity' side by side."

Dready, he says, is unique. It has elements of pop, poster, and advertising art throughout. "I wanted to carry (those elements) through an intended reference in the finished art," he said.

As the central character, Dready, who has found a home in Island Art and Framing in Kingston, the focal point is all about memories. "When I draw a commission, it's about other people's memories, imbued, perhaps, with my own, and when I draw my own stuff, memory percolates through it like a sweet spring to the surface," he said.

Central to Dready are the props, a Range Rover, which often find themselves driven in unique and peculiar settings.

"Rovers keep cropping up in Dreadys because they were such a big part of the landscape of my youth and still promulgate in the vernacular of my adulthood," he said. "I can't say that this is a typical vision 'cause more often than not, the Land Rovers of memory were pick-up trucks."


Aquart said that he wanted to portray the Rover almost like a country bus, with stuff and 'caroaches' on top and somebody in a lawn chair on top of the things and the goat inside. "These are the things I could not do, and certainly in the way that I wanted," he said. After all, it is a pick-up truck - with which he has a love affair.

"I have a '90 right now; she's lovely, she's old, but that's kinda my thing," Aquart said, eyes gleaming. "There are a couple of Persian carpets lining the floor in the back, the diesel engine makes a delicious noise, the gear box is tough, the ride is hot. It's all idiosyncratically cool," he said, the choice of words descriptive of a dreamy and sinful sundae with layers of oozing goodness.

The four-wheel drive, leaving a trail of dust behind, often settles in antiquities and the quaint.

Jacko's Auto is a work that freezes a garage in Cayman, which is to be torn down and replaced by a shiny, squeaky, glass edifice office complex. "This is a place I go to for a quick fix last time I had my car exhaust fixed was there but they are about to be consigned to history. They're making way for progress."

Jacko's, like many older structures, according to Aquart, may not be what one would call iconic, but they're symbolic, and with the evolution of society, they are going to be immortal in frames and photographs.

"I, and others, will remember them being there, tucked behind the gas station," he said. He then quoted Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius: "Time passes, things change ... the universe is flux and life is opinion."

"His minimalism says a million things," remarked Karen Carter, a Jamaican painter specialising in portraits. "The illustrative style is not overbearing and crowded. The less is saying much more."

Dready, in the meanwhile, is getting ready for another set of adventures.