FrankWalter

Venice
Centro Culturale Don Orione Artigianelli
Pavilion of Antigua and Barbuda
at the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia
Padiglione Antigua e Barbuda
Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte – La Biennale di Venezia
FRANK WALTER: THE LAST UNIVERSAL MAN 1926–2009
Curated by /Curato da Barbara Paca, Ph.D.,
Cultural Envoy to Antigua and Barbuda
Emissario Culturale per Antigua e Barbuda
13 May–22 November 2017
13 Maggio – 26 Novembre 2017
Fondamenta Nani, Dorsoduro 947, 30123 Venice
 http://www.frankwalter.org/new-page
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FRANK WALTER: THE LAST UNIVERSAL MAN 1926­­–2009

Frank Walter: The Last Universal Man 1926–2009 marks Antigua and Barbuda’s inaugural representation at the 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. The exhibition invites visitors to inhabit the creative world and humanist vision of seminal Caribbean artist Frank Walter through a selection of his paintings, sculpture, audio recordings, and writing—as well as through video exploration of his entire oeuvre consisting of 5,000 works of art and a 25,000-page archive. The Last Universal Man is also conceived of as a space to inspire dialogue—a posthumous fulfillment of Walter’s intention to open his house and studio as a center for art.

Fittingly situated in the tranquil setting of central Venice’s fifteenth-century monastery Don Orione Artigianelli, the exhibition extends outdoors to an Antiguan garden. This sets the contemplative mood of Walter’s artistic retreat and paradisus terrestris, which he built above the southern Antiguan coastline in the last decades of his life. The artwork that once filled Walter’s house and studio is inextricable from his postcolonial experience. Yet the issues he engaged with—such as identity, memory, and environment—resonate today.

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Walter began adulthood with the distinction of being the first person of color to manage a sugar plantation in Antigua, and he remained devoted to the land as a source of meaning and sustenance throughout his life. Walter’s complex, mixed-race descent from both slave owners and enslaved people meant that he struggled with the complexities of his identity. His position as other within postcolonial society was felt acutely in the systemic racism he endured during his eight-year Grand Tour of Europe in the 1950s, and it informed his obsessive interest in his white aristocratic lineage. In Walter’s imagining, his German heritage was connected to the royal houses of Great Britain and Europe, and he increasingly referred to himself as the “7th Prince of the West Indies, Lord of Follies and the Ding-a-Ding Nook.”

Walter’s need to invent his own universe originated in the difficulties he encountered in constructing his identity in relation to a society defined by exclusion. When Walter retreated into nature, art was his solace. He populated his world with talismanic sculptures depicting figures as varied as ancient Arawak people, European royalty, and men from outer space. He revisited his memories in painting and writing and explored nature as an avid environmentalist and student of science. Walter’s diverse practice as visual artist, musician, and philosopher reveals him as the ultimate Vitruvian man.

 

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BIOS

Featured artist Frank Walter was born in Antigua in 1926 and was recognized early as a wunderkind, mastering Latin and science at the prestigious Antigua Grammar School. Noted as the first person of color to manage a sugar plantation, he opened the door for aspiring youth of his time. He later became one of the Caribbean’s most enigmatic artists, living close to nature, high on a hillside without running water or electricity until his death in 2009. His work continues to inspire young artists throughout the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda.

Melville Richardson is the Commissioner for Antigua and Barbuda’s inaugural National Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia, and serves as Education Officer in Visual Arts for the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology for the Government of Antigua and Barbuda.

Barbara Paca is the Curator for Antigua and Barbuda’s inaugural National Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia, and serves as Cultural Envoy to Antigua and Barbuda. She is an art historian and landscape architect, who holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University and was awarded postdoctoral fellowships as a Fulbright Scholar and at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study. She is the author of Ruth Starr Rose (1887–1965): Revelations of African American Life in Maryland and the World and Frank Walter, the catalogue for the 2013 Art Basel in Miami Beach.

300–400 CHARACTER BLURB

Frank Walter: The Last Universal Man 1926–2009 marks Antigua and Barbuda’s inaugural National Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia. Set in the tranquility of a fifteenth-century monastery in central Venice, the exhibition extends into an Antiguan garden to honor the achievements of artist, poet, planter, and philosopher Frank Walter, one of the Caribbean’s most enigmatic artists. A richly illustrated catalogue accompanies the show along with extensive video transporting you to the island nation.

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Frank Walter, The Last Universal Man (1926-2009), segnerà la rappresentazione inaugurale di Antigua e Barbuda alla 57. Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte – La Biennale di Venezia. La mostra invita i visitatori ad addentrarsi nel mondo creativo e nella visione umanistica dell’influente artista Caraibico con una selezione di suoi dipinti, sculture, registrazioni audio e scritti—oltre che attraverso un’esplorazione video della sua intera oeuvre consistente in 5.000 opere e 25.000 pagine di archivio. The Last Universal Man è inoltre concepito come uno spazio che possa ispirare dialogo—una adempimento postumo al desiderio di Walter di aprire la sua casa e studio come centro per l’arte.

Appropriatamente situata nel tranquillo contesto del Monastero quattrocentesco Don Orione degli Artigianelli, nel pieno centro di Venezia, la mostra si estende all’esterno in un giardino antiguano. Questo richiama l’animo contemplativo del rifugio artistico e paradisus terrestris di Walter, da lui stesso costruito sulla costa meridionale antiguana negli ultimi decenni della sua vita.

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L’opera artistica che una volta riempiva la casa e lo studio di Walter è inestricabile dalla sua esperienza postcolonialista. Tanto che le tematiche con cui si confrontava—come l’identità, la memoria, l’ambiente—risuonano ancora oggi.

Walter iniziò la sua età adulta con la particolarità di essere la prima persona di colore a gestire una piantagione di zucchero ad Antigua, e rimase devoto alla terra come fonte di significato e sostentamento per tutta la sua vita. La difficile e multirazziale discendenza di Walter, da schiavisti e persone rese schiavo, causò un interiore lotta con le complesse caratteristiche della sua identità. La sua posizione come altro all’interno della società postcoloniale, si rafforzò nel razzismo sistemico che dovette sopportare negli anni ‘50 durante il suo Grand Tour d’Europa, durato otto anni, e diede vita all’interesse ossessivo per il suo lignaggio bianco ed aristocratico. Nell’immaginario di Walter, il suo retaggio Tedesco era connesso con la casa reale Britannica e d’Europa, riferendosi a se stesso sempre più col passare del tempo come il “7th Prince of the West Indies, Lord of Follies and the Ding-a-Ding Nook.”

Il bisogno di Walter di inventare un proprio universo, ha origine nelle difficoltà che incontrò nel determinare la propria identità in relazione con una società definita dall’esclusione. Quando Walter si ritirò nella natura, l’arte divenne il suo anòdino. Popolò il suo mondo di sculture talismaniche che rappresentavano figure tanto varie quanto antiche come popolazioni Arawak, Reali Europei e uomini dallo spazio profondo. Il lavoro di Walter come pittore, scrittore, ambientalista, musicista, scultore e filosofo lo rivela come l’ultimo uomo Vitruviano.

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VENICE BIENNALE ANTIGUA & BARBUDA NATIONAL PAVILION

COMMISSIONER: Melville Richardson Education Officer, Visual Arts, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Antigua and Barbuda
VENICE BIENNALE ANTIGUA & BARBUDA NATIONAL PAVILION

CURATOR: Barbara Paca, Ph.D., Author and Cultural Envoy to Antigua and Barbuda

VENICE BIENNALE ANTIGUA & BARBUDA NATIONAL PAVILION ORGANIZER + COLLABORATORS:

Preservation Green, LLC, Garden and Architectural Design for the National Pavilion

AB Venice, Production and Coordination

Radius Books, Publisher, Frank Walter, The Last Universal Man 1926-2009

Nina Khrushcheva, Ph.D., Author and Exhibition Collaborator

Kelly Nosari, Editor

Mary Shanahan, Graphic Designer

VENICE BIENNALE ANTIGUA & BARBUDA NATIONAL PAVILION

SUPPORTERS:

Permanent Secretary Sarah Stuart-Smith, Minister of Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Minister of Sport, Culture and National Festivals for Antigua and Barbuda

Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, KCMG

Generous Private Donations made to the Antigua and Barbuda Venice Biennale 2017 Charitable Trust, St. Johns, Antigua (Reg. Charity, Antigua/Barbuda #C 277/17)

Generous Private Donations made to the Antigua and Barbuda Venice Biennale Fund, Tides Foundation, San Francisco, California USA (Reg. 501 C-3 TAX ID #51-0198509)

 

Curator /Curatrice, Barbara Paca
barbara@preservationgreenllc.com
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ABOUT THE BOOK

Antiguan artist and writer Frank Walter (1926–2009) was an eccentric character now considered to be vastly under-recognized. Intellectually brilliant, Walter entertained delusions of aristocratic grandeur, namely the belief that the white slave-owners in his family linked him to the noble houses of Europe. The self-styled “7th Prince of the West Indies, Lord of Follies and the Ding-a-Ding Nook” produced paintings that dealt with race, class and social identity, as well as abstract explorations of nuclear energy, portraits both real and imagined—including Hitler playing cricket, and Prince Charles and Princess Diana as Adam and Eve—and miniature landscapes of Scotland, the country that he fell in love with during a visit in 1960. Walter typically painted in oil on rudimentary materials, with a marked immediacy and naivety. The first man of color to manage an Antiguan sugar plantation, Walter spent the last decades of his life in an isolated rustic home in Antigua, surrounded by his writings, paintings, and carvings. Coinciding with Antigua and Barbuda’s inaugural National Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2017, The Last Universal Man is the first comprehensive monograph of this important Caribbean artist. Defying categorization as an outsider or self-taught artist, Walter worked as a writer, composer, sculptor, and painter.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Barbara Paca is the Curator for Antigua and Barbuda’s inaugural National Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia, and serves as Cultural Envoy to Antigua and Barbuda. She is an art historian and landscape architect, who holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University and was awarded postdoctoral fellowships as a Fulbright Scholar and at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study. She is the author of Ruth Starr Rose (1887–1965): Revelations of African American Life in Maryland and the World and Frank Walter, the catalogue for the 2013 Art Basel in Miami Beach.

Nina Khrushcheva, Ph.D., is professor of international affairs at The New School and a senior fellow of the World Policy Institute. She is the author of Imagining Nabokov (2008) and The Lost Khrushchev (2014).

 

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Hardcover, 9.5 x 12.5 inches
201 color images / 364 pages
AUTHOR
Barbara Paca, Ph.D.
FOREWORD
His Excellency,
Sir Rodney Williams,
Governor General of
Antigua and Barbuda
INTRODUCTION
Nina Khrushcheva, Ph.D.
CONTRIBUTORS
The Rt. Honorable
Patricia Scotland,
Secretary-General of the Commonwealth
Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, KCMG, Ph.D.
Caitlin Hoffman, M.D.
Marcus Nakbar Crump
Kenneth M. Milton
Sir Selvyn Walter
ISBN: 9781942185185
Trade Edition: $55.00
Pre-Order

http://www.frankwalter.org

La Biennale di Venezia: Antigua, Frank Walter, How I Became European

http://www.frankwalter.org/videos/

ALL IMAGES © COURTESY THE ESTATE OF FRANK WALTER 2017
All Images Photographed by Kenneth M. Milton unless otherwise specified.

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