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|Conrad Meertins: A master of unique three-dimensional art form|
|Sunday, 24 June 2012 21:00|
AFTER striving to create a medium through the fusion of paint and wood craft, Conrad Meertins has become a master of a unique three-dimensional art form.
The 69-year-old, who won an art competition at the tender age of 10, decided to show his work to the world, and the Van Meer Art Gallery was opened at Lot 3 Vlissengen Road, where he was born.
The gallery is set in an unusual courtyard format, and along with smaller paintings, large murals decorate the smooth, high concrete walls which surround the premises.
The paintings mostly focus on Guyanese scenery and culture; and though they are all done in acrylic, each appears to have its own unique look, as if adopting its own mood altogether. Guyana’s lush rainforest and beautiful waterfalls feature in many of the pieces; and one stunningly realistic piece shows a large, three-dimensional tree against the backdrop of the Rupununi River.
Our country’s rich architectural heritage is put in the spotlight. Meertins has depicted the St. George’s Cathedral and the City Hall as realistic, three-dimensional pieces that seem to jump out of their frames. Another piece which depicts the main branch of the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) draws expressions from visitors as they instantly recognise the large building situated at High & Young Streets, Kingston.
The care that Meertins took to bring these pieces to life is obvious, as close examination of the pieces shows that he has carefully layered many components to form a cohesive whole. In the piece depicting St. George’s, Meertins combined 18 components along with background painting that shows the environs of the famous structure. Even more elaborate, though probably not realisable at first, his depiction of the City Hall features more pieces that any observer can count, as Meertins included even the last post in the structure.
Visitors get a glimpse of the days of the trains and railways in Guyana, as one of the murals decorating the fence of the Van Meer Art Gallery shows a representation of a “typical country railroad”, in the words of the artist. A work in progress, the outlines of workers and bystanders can be seen in the piece. The vendor with the basket of fruit on her head, the mother with the young child, and the man with his newspaper are some of the people who are shown in raised detail.
Meertins, who studied under famous Guyanese master Edgar R. Burrowes, has also been influenced by his Dutch ancestry, which included a line of boat builders. Described as having a complex, restless nature, he became an airline pilot and flew as a captain under several major airlines in the region. However, the prevailing factor in his nature was always his art.
Entrance to the gallery is currently free, as entrance fees have not been settled. (Sonell Nelson Photos)
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