Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer
After two devastating and life-threatening strokes with side effects that took away his ability to read, write, the use of his right arm, some mobility and the training he previously held as a statistician, 33-year-old Kitwana Robinson remained strong in spirit and began to build on his sophisticated use of colour.
As a part of my recovery, I turned to creating art as a way of passing my otherwise tedious times that included physically and emotionally painful days of therapy, medication, doctor visits and other medical complications. Making art has become my lifeline and a way to enjoy life" Kitwana noted.
Since embarking on his mission as an artist five years ago, Kitwana has completed 40 pieces resulting in the opening of 'Phoenix Rising' an exhibition of art in association with his sister and fellow artist Atira Robinson last Thursday at The Olympia Gallery in Kingston.
In the past, Kitwana only viewed art through his mother and sister who are both artists. However, in his artistic pursuits, over the past five years, he tried working in paint, oil pastels and pencils until eventually settling for dry /chalk pastels.
"My works are mostly large expanses of coloured space and reflect the joy I feel when making art. It is only on completing each piece that the stories of these colour fields - often suggestive of
Kitwana also expressed his delight as the feedback from the exhibit that was his first show was great.
"Although I am told that, for a new artist, my sense of colour is sophisticated, for me, when I use colour, I am always amazed by the way just putting colour on a blank canvas/paper can change that canvas, almost magically, into something that gives you so much joy. I am happy to say that these works express, for me mostly, the joy of being alive and help to heal the wounds of my past," Kitwana said.
"My hope is that as I have created these works and experienced my own healing with making art, others, who hear of my experiences, see my work and who have their own challenges to face will somehow gain inspiration and find hope," he added.
Atira also had a few of her works at the exhibit, she stated that the passion for art has been around for as long as she can remember.
"My early years as a student were dominated by my desire to tell stories through my art. The art of Japanese anime, surrealist artists such as Luis Royo, Valejo Boris and Josephine Wall, have all been influential in my work. My mother, who is an artist and a teacher, has also been instrumental in my development," Atira noted.
"Today, I consider myself more as an illustrator, having illustrated a cover of a fictional novel, two children's books and designed costumes for several dance productions. Additionally, I continue to create portraits and individually-commissioned art pieces," she added.