Brent Malone’s “Seaside Village” is the February Artwork of The Month

By Richardo Barrett

Throughout his life, Brent Malone went through a lot of changes personally and with his work. But in its own way, “Seaside Village” stands out in R. Brent Malone: “Reincarnation” for various reasons. “Seaside Village” was completed while Malone was studying at Beckenham School of Art, London (1959-1963). It is from the collection of Anthony Jervis and is on permanent loan to the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.

The scene in “Seaside Village” is of an anonymous European harbor. Like much of his earlier work, the painting lacks saturation, even to the point of it appearing lacking or unfinished; but the simplistic marks are intentional. Like most of Malone’s works, a simple glance would not do “Seaside Village” much justice. Though there are layers of texture to be experienced, some may feel cold and detached looking at the painting. Art isn’t always intended to be colorful, entertaining or commercially appealing. Sometimes it is dark, neutral and emotionally distanced.

Looking at the work, questions arise. Whose village or town is this? Why does it look so abandoned? We don’t have answers to those queries, but we do know that this painting was not a representation of the Bahamian landscape. While in England, Malone’s work was influenced by artwork and culture around him. This harbor might have been a common sight on Malone’s daily routes around London. The painting, which was probably inspired by European art trends at the time, is demonstrative of his adaptive traits as a man and artist who appreciated and embraced the culture of his surroundings.

A large part of Malone’s practice was drawn from his upbringing in The Bahamas. Like many other Bahamian students studying abroad, it is likely he became homesick. The other worldly and de-saturated appearance of “Seaside Village” make the painting easy to overlook among Malone’s more vibrant works, but its coloration might actually cause the viewer to question whether Malone was actually experiencing homesickness while he painted it.