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Valerie Marie Brathwaite was born in San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago, in 1940. She came of age as an artist in Europe during her formative years while studying art and interior design. Valerie Brathwaite’s practice has drawn inspiration mainly from nature. First and foremost a sculptor, she creates forms of organic abstraction using simple sculptural volumes and sinuous lines resembling the flora, fauna and landscape of the Caribbean and South America.

View of Brathwaite’s first solo exhibition at Henrique Faria gallery in New York “Where have all the flowers gone?” 2021

Brathwaite had a profound academic training in sculpture working with artists such as Hubert Dalwood in London and Ossip Zadkin in Paris during a time when sculpture was evolving from modern to contemporary. Fajardo-Hill writes, “Her choice of form and motifs, as well as materials, surpasses the boundaries of tradition.” They range from established to experimental, including concrete, plaster, clay, aluminum, bronze, silver, soft sculptures of stuffed fabric, and more recently MDF, demonstrating both freedom and resourcefulness in materiality and making.

Brathwaite’s use of colors, often bright and found in nature, are fundamental in embracing the form and are often applied in layers to become an integral element of the sculpture. Her deployment of color is a surprising and unconventional feature of her work, as modelled sculpture is hardly ever polychrome; making her stand out from her teachers and peers since the 1960s.

Soft Bodies/Cuerpos Blandos, 2004. This installation of textile sculptures was exhibited in the group show entitled Retomando el Volúmen (aproximaciones a la nueva escultura). An interesting proposal by curator Miguel Miguel for the MAO in 2004.

I had seen those rocks on the ground in Trinidad, I thought they were marvellous, perfectly sculpted by nature. I picked them up and treasured them for a long time. Out of such admiration I decided to make my own rocks, a very personal interpretation of them… the rocks of my private beach.”

Untitled. 1970. Engraving. 13 x 19 inches (33 x 48.3 cm) Edition 1/1. Courtesy Henrique Faria New York
Untitled. 1989. Mixed media 15 x 19 in. (38.1 x 48.3 cm.) Courtesy Henrique Faria New York
Untitled, 1975, Ink on paper,25 1/2 x 19 5/8 in. (64.8 x 49.9 cm.) Courtesy Henrique Faria New York

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