Leonard Hunte says that #art has always been a part of him – ever since his boyhood days. judging from his prolific output and his very outspoken views on everything from art history to genetics, there is no doubt that art provides the vehicle for a major part of his life’s journey. But Leonard’s interest in art goes a bit further.
He views himself as a curator of sorts, attempting to artistically reclaim artifacts and historical icons of the Barbadian and wider Caribbean past.
Presently pursuing postgraduate studies in forensic science at King’s College, London, the former Coleridge and Parry student appears to operate in two realms: That of Aanou Sentwali – his adopted African name.
“Through Aanou, I am reborn. In a sense, it represents an ongoing search, a journey.”
In July 1996, Aanou’s works were displayed at the Queen’s Park Gallery as part of the Fine Craft Exhibition. On that occasion he showcased Motif, Magic and Myth as well as Zemi Offering Dish which quickly brought him to the attention of the local artistic community.
In this piece, the cabbage palm is painted to resemble an Amerindian/African shield.
Accompanying the shield/dish is a small totemic staff adorned with feathers.
“In my work Zemi Offering Dish I wanted to have people understand the spirituality behind the dish. I also wanted people to see that there were methods of attaining spirituality which predated other religions. … I also make use of parchment and black belly sheep skin. I tan the skin myself and sometimes use young Barbadian mahogany wood.”
For him, these works represent the spirituality of ancient people. In Aanou’s eclectic belief system lies the key to his artistic process and method.
“I like to sit and talk with people and discover their totems and spiritual thoughts, and from there produce work that has some element of meaning. In this way, I like to assist people to represent themselves.”
Representation is an issue that Leonard/Aanou feels strongly about.
Especially when it is connected to the more significant issues of identity and consciousness. “I consider myself to be African from the standpoint of phenotype, genes and culture … I have also read a lot about Africa – the place where all life began. People should stop scoffing at Africa and avoid all the stereotypes about this continent. they should not buy into the propaganda.”
“People need to read and research more about their African past. nothing is out of bounds for anyone. People should never stop wanting to know about themselves.”
Visual representation comprises one of the many textures of Aanou’s talents. He is also interested in poetry and with his boundless enthusiasm and talent, we can expect much more from Aanou.