In Pictures From Paradise a new book about contemporary Caribbean photography, O'Neil Lawrence explains that the tableau vivant is a staged scene that employs a combination of characters and props to produce a pregnant moment in a story and to elicit “an understanding in the viewer of the story being told.” He appears to be using a similar formula in his current solo exhibition Son of a Champion on show at the Mutual Gallery. The approach is simple, employing photographs of his bodybuilder father, juxtaposed with his own image often against a stark background, or in the case of the video by a coastline.
For those who have been following Lawrence's work, the scenario is a familiar one. We have seen this/his naked form and shoreline before in past shows but the appearance of his bodybuilder father, Mr Jamaica 1966, is a new twist in the plot. In the accompanying video Lawrence tells us, “My father’s image is firmly imprinted in my mind and has deeply affected my shifting perceptions of my own body and, by implication, of my own masculinity and sense of self. At first, I perceived this “measuring up” as a problem but I have come to recognize that it is an integral part of who I am...” This narration provides a sense of how this artist is slowly telling us his story, that will unravel with self-exploration and the honing of his visual skills. But this narrative and the literalness of these images is more than the viewer needs to know, since the power of these photographs resides in what we are not told: in what is left...unsaid.