Transcendent Coincidences for Existence
Place is a defining element of the traditions and customs of humanity, and defines the values and principals of living work as contemplative spaces that I associate to passages and opportunity, leading the viewer through difficult questions and concepts. Bechet tries to find that space between human reality in this world and our perception of a spiritual world. His work attempts to validate beings and link us to mysteries, difficult histories and connection to legend. Bechet’s process is improvisational, allowing for the image to develop based on the transcendence of time and based in the moment. The imagery is layered with metaphor and narratives again based in the moment and history of our forbearers. Some narratives are personal accounts and an exploration values and strategies for existing and survival. All are about the simple act of mark making with and on simple materials in order to make since of our humanity and small place in this system and complicated existence.
“Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death–ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life.” ― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
The visual culture of the African Diaspora is woven into the intricately executed works of Ron Bechet. Tangled vines, roots, the bases of large trees, and the decomposition of the forest floor are the subject of these layered scenes of tangled imagery. Here, we are gifted with the physical proximity of life and death – How they share the same organic space – how they sleep together as equals. The flora of South Louisiana’s natural landscape is cleaved open to expose the roots. These roots and the bases of trees are a significant symbol both in West Africa and throughout the Diaspora. In many West African belief systems, shrines are constructed at the base of large trees. Trees are translated as a symbol of the crossroads, connecting the elements of earth and sky as well as the realms of the ancestors and the living. This tradition is continued in the African Diaspora and is articulately and poignantly rendered in Bechet’s works. Lodged in the midst of this knotted and matted landscape are the meanderings of the displaced, the alienated, and the magical. These exposed roots act like lifelines, umbilical cords –ways to connect back to the miraculous source. They tell a personal and communal story of cultural hybridity, spiritual self-discovery and ancestral resonance. If you look closely, bodies emerge from the interwoven plant life. It is a Diaspora body, skin folded back to reveal its elegant and resilient backbone.
– Dr. Sarah A. Clunis