Guyana’s Renaissance

Yesterday, I read an article about the Renaissance which suggested that it was not as much of a positive period as popular opinion would have us believe. Rather, the author suggested that the Middle Ages preceding it was more advanced; he was less than impressed with the Renaissance’s penchant for nostalgia and looking backwards.

Whether it was a greater advance than the Middle Ages, there is no denying that the period produced some of the most beautiful art and literature. This made me wonder whether Guyana was due for a Renaissance any time soon. After all, we have a population that loves to look backwards. Maybe we can put that to good use.

I’m constantly hearing about the ‘good old days’ (when you could leave your doors unlocked and not worry about being burgled) although I can’t place when these days occurred. Colonial times? Dictatorship times? The 90s?

What period of time could Guyana look back at for cultural, philosophical and scientific inspiration? When did we have a flowering of genius?

My good old days were the early 90s when I was a kid and the majority of my closest relatives lived close enough for really great birthday parties to occur. Days when we’d really look forward to the rare barrel and we’d pretend we didn’t know that our parents were wrapping ‘Santa’s’ gifts so that we could get twice the number of presents Christmas morning. When we seemed to have all the time in the world to hang out in the yard, climb the occasional tree, ‘bake’ mud pies and wait for Barney to appear because we really, really believed he would.

After that, I can’t say that the days were particularly awesome. I mostly remember lots of school induced anxiety.

But I wouldn’t offer my glory days as the template for national transformation although for personal renaissance – if you enjoy climbing trees and baking mud pies, just go for it.

Maybe we should be looking to pre-Guyana times and places. After all, if Paris could look to Athens and Rome, maybe there are other places Guyana could cast her gaze. Where would it be? Latin America? Another country in the Caribbean? India? China? “Africa”?

Or maybe I’m too young to remember it and it’s already happened. Certainly, by the way some people unfavorably regard change of any manner it would seem that they believe that we’ve already had/are living our golden age. If one of my five readers could let me know if this is the case, I’d be very grateful.



6 thoughts on “Guyana’s Renaissance

  1. I’ve never really thought about it… and my knowledge of the “Renaissance” is fairly limited, but I think that our current generation(s), my parents’ own, mine and yours are the Guyanese Renaissance generation… we are unheralded, and overlooked, we are dwarfed and over-shadowed by that which occurs in the “north”, but we have been producing art in the fields of music, theatre, sculpture, painting, literature, photography; virtually all of the fields of visual, literary and performing arts that are accessible to us….

    Why don’t we see it? I posit that the reasons are numerous, but a few can be mentioned… As a society, we overlook our own talent and recognise rather the talents of others (a prophet is never accepted in his hometown – excuse the biblical reference). During the renaissance artists found favour with wealthy patrons, and from the state, that is not happening here. Guyanese artists fight for recognition at home, hoping that in so doing, and achieving, they may then gain recognition abroad, but many of the Guyanese artists who have found recognition abroad possibly did not get it here first, and are recognised after-the-fact, as in when institutions and art-lovers in the “developed” world give acclaim and praise to their works.

    The three generations of people who I grouped together are the “educated” generations of our country (the current state of our education system does not encourage me to include this current generation of children leaving school and those in school), our three generations can produce and appreciate “art”, but are we? do we?

    one of your five readers

    1. Wow, I feel like that could be a blog post on its own, Michael! Thanks for reading and engaging as always.

      I agree that we do tend to look North but, and I may just be naive here, I don’t know that we have equivalent art here that is just being overlooked – at least not in all fields. I think we’re doing quite well in photography and it seems to me that there is a growing appreciation for it here. But I’m not entirely convinced that we have that many brilliant painters, for instance. We have a few but the majority of paintings I see (again, I may just not be familiar), is quite uninspiring. I hadn’t thought about it but I think you’ve hit the nail on the head re: patronage of the arts. Why paint if you can’t live off of your paintings? How feasible is it to be a “starving artist” in Guyana today?

      And of course, there’s the matter of art schools. How much are we willing to invest to cultivate these talents?

      1. To be fair, based on the recent two iterations of the Visual Arts competitions, I have to say that the level of skill, artistic concepts and originality in painting and sculpture far surpasses that of photography locally, let’s face it, we photographers take “pretty pictures”, but many of them lack soul.

        I do suggest more frequent visits to Castellani house… we are living in a renaissance age, will it be remembered, will we help to make it be remembered? that may well be your job 🙂

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