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Lisa Brice, Peter Doig, and Chris Ofili Bring Trinidad to New York

A rare and beautiful Trinidad moment is happening in three New York City galleries. It started on Wednesday night when Chris Ofili opened with his brave and profound new work at David Zwirner on 19th Street. The next night brought Peter Doig’s tour de force new paintings and drawings uptown at Michael Werner Gallery—whose rooms were once home to Leo Castelli’s iconic stable of artists. And Saturday night, Cape Town–born Lisa Brice made her Manhattan debut (and her first show in the United States in nearly 30 years) at Salon 94 Bowery. Her edgy, figurative canvases sizzle with bold women in various stages of undress, and black cats whose hisses resound through her confident paint strokes. When the shows opened, Ofili, Doig, and Brice were surprised to find they had all made work in homage to the charismatic Trinidadian poet-cum-artist Embah, who passed away two years ago.

Brice met Ofili and Doig (who had lived in Trinidad for five years as a child) back in 2000, when all three were on a residency program located in a former Port of Spain rum factory. Since then, they’ve all ended up making Trinidad home in one way or another. The island enchanted them with its racial tolerance, fabulous music, ebulliently independent people, and world-renowned carnival. On that first residency, they also met Embah, who, like Trinidad itself, was a big presence that continues to occupy their hearts and minds. Born in 1937, his idiosyncratic work includes carved wooden sculptures of imaginary creatures and carnival figures, one of them a man dressed as a bat, and vividly colored paintings in a variety of media. His work, coupled with his highly original conversation, mesmerized the three residents...

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