Over three decades of art was on display last weekend when Hedy Klineman hosted a retrospective, entitled Art & Spirit, at the Gallery of Caribbean Art, Speightstown.
Klineman, a renowned American-Bajan artist, said the show was a celebration. She explained: “I am celebrating 30 plus years of painting in my studio here in Barbados and for me that is a blessing.”
She added: “In the beginning, I started doing abstract work because I’m an abstract expressionist. Then the work began to become figurative and I did nudes of men and women and then the more I lived in Barbados, especially in my beautiful garden, the more the trees, the plants and the flowers began to speak to me and they all got into my paintings. I call them fantasy flora, I don’t do realistic, they come from my head and from my heart.”
Klineman, who has been painting for over 40 years, calls herself a Bajan New Yorker. Art & Spirit was her first show of this nature. “I have never had a retrospective in my life. I’ve had shows but never all of my work on showcase. In the past when I had a show, the work would represent my art over the last year or two but never all of the work and certainly not decades,” she explained.
She paid tribute to her late husband who passed away in 2015 and was her hero. “He was my sweetheart, my love, my husband Kent Mayer Klineman. Without him, I would not be here today and we would have been married 50 years this year. Kent was a lawyer, a venture capitalist and an adventure capitalist who supported me in everything and every way.”
Former chairman of now defunct Barbados Tourism Authority, Adrian Elcock, who was one of the guest speakers, described Klineman as art. “I don’t know if art found Hedy or if Hedy found art but either way Hedy is art and art is Hedy.”
“I had the chance to see Hedy’s show Art & Spirt in her home in New York City and it really was a powerful moment for me. I got to see Hedy in her element and the work resonated deeper with me,” he said.
“I find that she has no boundaries. She embraces those she meets and she makes people feel comfortable within her space. She appreciates life. No matter what it is, she unmasks it and she looks at the underbelly of this subject matter and looks deep within it and it always reflects her personal journey and the marriage of the different cultures she has experienced.”
Elcock said Klineman’s love affair with Barbados began with her late husband 30 years ago. “Kent was visiting a neighbouring Caribbean island and he absolutely hated it, so he just hopped on a plane and when it landed here, he called Hedy and said ‘I think you should come see this place, it’s pretty special’. She did and she brought the kids and invested in our island like so many others do.”
Klineman believes the way forward for art in Barbados is with a home for local art. “The Spirit Bond building in Bridgetown needs to be sold so it can be developed into a museum or a gallery because that place is a treasure and if we want tourism, we need to develop all our treasures, so that tourists can come here to see the culture and art of our island,” she said.