Fri | May 25, 2018

Astro debuts 'Morning Star'

Published:Wednesday | November 21, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Astro's digital painting called '7Up'.
Astro's depiction of 'Ackee'.
A digital painting called 'Paul', by Astro.
Astro (left) and his father, Bertram Saulter, hang out at Calabash earlier this year. - Contributed photos

Proponents of the theory of formalism in art posit that the artistic value of any work lies solely in its visual form and requires no insight into the artist.

However, to fully appreciate the artistic brilliance that is in play in Astro Saulter's work, one must employ some perspective.

Astro kicked off his debut solo exhibition called 'Astro: The Morning Star' on Saturday at Studio 174, and a host of people turned out to support and view the artist's work.

Founder and CEO of Studio 174, Rozi Chung, was simply in awe of Astro.

"He is what I would consider quite a remarkable man and a remarkable artist. Many persons who are trained to be artists still struggle to use their hands but this individual, with the disability that he has, to use the back of his head to work is absolutely extraordinary. He's amazing," Chung told The Gleaner.

Chung, who is also an artist and lecturer at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, revealed that she is happy that Astro is having his first show at her studio.

"The works are fresh. They communicate to us who he is, what he's thinking, how he's feeling, his likes and his dislikes. It's having a conversation with him but it's also expressing the work in such a purist, simplistic way that is just beautiful to see," Chung added.

Astro's works are colourful and playful and reveal a very vivid and eclectic mind. What makes Astro such a remarkable artist, though, is that he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age. Astro, now 34, is in a wheelchair and unable to communicate effectively without the use of a computer.

With the use of the back of his head, a single button and an appreciable amount of dedication and patience, modern technology has given Astro the ability to do many of the things on a computer that the average person might take for granted. It is this same mechanism that allows Astro to produce his art.

Communication redefined

For Joshua Chamberlain of the Alpha Boys' School, Astro has redefined what it means to communicate.

"The exhibition opened my eyes to the possibility of art as a language for people who have a difficult time communicating, or can't communicate in the ways that we are accustomed to," Chamberlain said.

Filmmaker Storm Saulter revealed that his brother communicates regularly with family, mostly via email. In fact, an artistic statement said to be writing by Astro was also on display at the exhibition.

"We are all artists in some form or another. I would like to inspire artists and all people to exercise patience and vision and to stay steadfast in their commitment to making their artwork or way in the world. Whatever the challenge, be it a disability like mine or only a small roadblock in their path, I'd like to encourage us all to express our true voice in any way that we can," Astro writes.

No-Maddz was also present at the opening of the exhibition and excited the crowd with a dazzling performance.

The group acknowledged that its members got involved with the exhibition through their involvement with Storm Saulter's acclaimed film, Better Mus Come. Storm and Astro are brothers. No-Maddz were also quick to point out that they were amazed by Astro and the way he uses technology.

Storm describes his brother's creative process as a painstaking one, expressing that it can take days to complete a piece, depending on the level of difficulty.

The director also revealed that along with himself, Astro will be featured in the National Gallery's biennial exhibition which is set to open in December.

The exhibition at Studio 174 will continue until January 19, 2013 and also features a looped video created by Astro's brothers Storm and Nile, which gives an intimate look at Astro's life and artistic process. The video can be viewed on Astro's Facebook page: The Astro Project.