These harmonious, fluid blue works set the perfect backdrop - a spiritual melting pot reflective of Nattoo’s identity, bringing together the energy of the sacred groves of India, Africa and the Caribbean. Born in Jamaica with Indian heritage, and having lived in Ghana, Nattoo creates a Majic world which celebrates Akan, Taino and Hindu spirituality simultaneously.
Throughout this body of work Nattoo engages a childlike freedom, as familiar misplaced memories are reinterpreted and reimagined. By doing so, Nattoo looks to oppose Western society’s expectations regarding what it means to live a meaningful and successful life. Within these works, this concept manifests itself in the journey of an adult Wanderer and a child Majician. As we follow this pair through these spectacular narrative works, the child looks to untether the adult from the soulless and unforgiving realm of adulthood and reinvigorate him with childlike wonder.
This association with youth is paramount to Nattoo’s works, with smooth, flawless skin surfaces reflecting on the youth of these figures. Throughout the paintings we see a beautiful blend of surfaces and textures, with loose, gestural brushstrokes combining with airbrushed, porcelain-like skin. The surfaces glisten with the twinkle of fireflies, which guide the eye as well as the characters themselves.
Nattoo remembers the freedoms he had as a child - now revoked by a western society that demands we partake in the capitalist system of labour and value. Through his work, Nattoo looks to re-establish that connection to his childhood freedom, using water he encountered as a child from bodies such as rivers and lakes. Nattoo believes that water is a highly spiritual entity - tasked with creating, destroying and carrying messages and memories. By using this living water, Nattoo embeds each canvas with the memories of his childhood, ancestors and environment.
Nattoo reflects on his own identity at the intersection of West African Akan, indigenous Taino and Indo-Hindu heritage to develop a unique world that explores the link between the material and the spiritual. Through these works, he reflects on the multiple spiritual traditions interrupted and therefore fragmented as a result of the historical Caribbean experience of indentured and enslaved labour. The complexion of these figures links to Nattoo’s Indian heritage - the blue skinned depictions of Hindu Gods being something that always spoke to Nattoo as a child. In many ways, these figures we see presented in the works are spiritual, majestic beings in their own right - an amalgamation of identity and ideas carried by the very water they are painted with.
Another symbolic recurring motif is this depiction of plants, whose significance lies in the medicinal power they contain - harnessed by human kind for centuries. Nattoo reflects on the loss of this knowledge as Western medicine has erased familial remedies. We also see a rabbit - reflective of Richard’s childhood and his association of the letter R with rabbits on wall charts. This association with his name faded over time, however it has since subconsciously returned - a reminder of what it means to be young again.
Richard Nattoo (b. 1993, Spanish Town, Jamaica) lives and works in Jamaica. He studied Architecture at the University of Technology, where his interest in the world of the arts grew ferociously, propelling him into a career as a full time Artist. Over the years, he has participated in many premier exhibitions at the National Gallery of Jamaica, in addition to international solo and group shows in the UK and Ireland. Richard is also a recipient of the 2020 Prime Minister Youth Award in the category of Arts and Culture. In 2022, Nattoo’s work “Moonlight Meditations of Mama Nanny” was installed in the Institute of Jamaica. In 2022, Nattoo was a visiting fellow at the Noldor Residency, Institute Museum of Ghana.