David Gumbs is an award-winning interdisciplinary artist from the Caribbean island of Saint-Martin, based in Martinique. Recent works include his first solo Museum exhibition in the U.S. From Dust to gold at the Telfair Museums in Savanah, Illuminate Coral Gables in Miami, Tod Town Expo in Shanghai, the Currents New Media digital festival in Santa Fe, and the touring exhibition Relational Undercurrents which is a major survey of Latin American and Caribbean Art in the United States. The show opened at MOLAA Los Angeles and has traveled to the Portland Museum of Art, the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, and the Wallach Gallery New York. Select works were also shown at the TVE Caribbean visual Exchange in Melbourne, Australia. In 2017, Gumbs was part of the Prizm Art Fair during Miami Art Week, the Jamaica Biennal, and won the National Street Art contest for the islands of Martinique and Saint-Martin.
“My work investigates the notion of identity and belonging in a post-colonial Caribbean landscape. And the Caribbean islands’ vulnerability to global catastrophies such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and food chain contamination by industrial pollution.
The identity research goes through the exploration of intuitive drawing. Where I try to reveal macro and micro worlds of inner mental landscapes, in play with infinite scale, memory, and the offscreen of perception. With this body of work, I am interested in revealing the viewer’s imagination process by triggering memories of objects, spaces, sensations, and emotions. Thus opening intimate dialogues with the public, with writers, with anthropologists, that help me become more aware of my own presence and journey from a heavy colonial heritage.
Recently, my interactive immersive video installations focus on the critical consequences of Global Warming on the Caribbean islands’ echo systems, and the menace of rising sea levels. Thanks to my Davidoff Art Initiative Residency in Beijing where the air quality is quite poor, I became very conscious of the importance of breathing in a safe environment. Relating this to my own Caribbean culture, I decided to use the Conch shell (strombus Gigas) that is both a dying traditional wind instrument and an overfished popular sea food as the centerpiece in my installations. This shell often represents all Caribbean cultural heritage and is the symbol in my work that bridges awareness to past & present, to traditional heritage & modernization, and to depleted natural resources due to globalization.
At a conceptual level, my polymorphic art reveals the hybridization process in the collective societies of Caribbean cultures. Alienation, colonial domination, self-preservation, memory, and spirituality, are themes that emerge. My research seeks to stimulate memory and invoke a revelational outlook in a post-colonial Caribbean landscape.”