BELIZE CITY, Tues. Nov. 17, 2015–Garifuna Settlement Day is celebrated each year on November 19, and this year, the iconic and internationally-acclaimed Belizean Garifuna painter, Pen Cayetano, is holding an exhibit of 34 oil on canvas paintings, all original works, under the title, Our Heritage, as he pays tribute to Belize’s heritage through the eyes of a Garifuna man.
“The main objective is to keep our Belizean heritage alive,” the artist said. “Belize has a unique heritage…. Our heritage is our strength.”
Cayetano, 61, told Amandala that he is the only survivor of the group of painters who comprised the Soul to Art group back in 1975, which also included icons such as Benjamin Nicholas, Louis Sylvestre, and Percival Cain. He said that the heritage paintings which were the specialty of these artists are today hard to come by.
The paintings—such as Royal Salute, which recreates a 1911 scene—also capture history. Pen paints himself in his favorite piece, Departure of old Belize boats, capturing life in the 60s.
Hugo Juarez Carillo, counselor for press and legal affairs at the Embassy of Mexico in Belize at the Institute of Culture, where the exhibit is being held, told Amandala that Cayetano’s work is world class.
“We are very proud of it. This is the 9th time Mr. Pen Cayetano has had an exhibit here at the institute,” said Juarez. “This is our contribution to Garifuna Settlement Day.”
He added that, “We are impressed with the quality of the paintings…. They deserve to be in any art museum in the world—no doubt!”
Juarez’s favorite piece is Belize Old River, a little out of his price range at BZ$7,800 – but worth every penny, he agrees.
The price of the paintings range from $850 for the smaller pieces such as Luago Wafu (Girls at the pier) to $27,000 for the larger paintings such as The Resurrection and Departure of old Belize boats, which took Pen about a month to create.
Present for the opening of the exhibit were government officials, members of the diplomatic corp, including Mexico’s Ambassador to Belize, H.E. Carlos Quesnel Melendez, special guests and friends of the artist.
The exhibit was opened by NICH president Diane Haylock and Minister with responsibility for Culture, Elodio Aragon, Jr.
(Photos: Embassy of Mexico)