Biography of Gordon J. Solomon
Like a master weaver creating a great historical tapestry for the court of a great king, Gordon Solomon is an artist whose thread is pure color, and whose loom is the paintbrush. Like those tapestry-weavers of old, Mr. Solomon’s work depicts great battles; but they are the gentler battles of people struggling to find their place in a world which buffets them, while maintaining dignity and love in their hearts. They are universal stories which have been told across the whole world since time began, but they echo and resonate in Mr. Solomon’s paintings within the theatre of the Cayman Islands, the land Mr. Solomon knows, belongs to, and loves.
Born and raised in George Town, Grand Cayman in 1977, Mr. Solomon’s art- language is composed of a vast reservoir of word-pictures, taken from the things he has seen all around him; in towns and by the sea, boats and everyday life. Ordinary people engaged in often extraordinary trials, soothed and made sacred by the power of brush and paint.
“The love of art and the desire to create has ever been present,” he said, talking about the passion which has always driven him to create. Attending the John Gray High School, Gordon received merits in art class, and also helped create some of the school murals, which remain there today. After graduating in 1993, he joined Design Craft Ltd., one of Cayman’s largest sign-makers, who provided a scholarship for Mr. Solomon provided Gordon with a one-year scholarship to study Architectural Drawing and Building Science at the Community College of the Cayman Islands.
But there has always been a chasm between artisan and artist, and soon Mr Solomon’s true artistic spirit began to emerge and become recognized by others. In 1999 Mr. Solomon exhibited his mixed media oil and pastel works as part of the Cayman- based Native Sons group, and in the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands asked him to paint a design on their the van used for their annual art exhibition, Cayfest.
In 2002, The Marine Institute employed Mr. Solomon as an art instructor. Assisted by his students, he began the monumental work of illustrating the past and present history of the Cayman Islands, a mural covering the Institute’s outer walls. The resulting work took four months to complete, and Mr. Solomon feels it to be a great personal accomplishment. It speaks of Caymanian identity, and all the hard work which has helped to establish the Islands. Other notable murals include a portrait of Arthur Martin, one of Cayman’s forefathers on the wall of Arthur Martin’s Creative Empowerment Youth Centre, as well as murals for the Mango Tree Restaurant, Globe Bar, and the Macro Matrix Nightclub.
In 2003 Mr. Solomon spent six months at the University of Superior Art in Cuba, where, surrounded by Cuba’s most famous artists, he was able to develop his skills and bring fresh ideas and approaches to his work.
Around this time, Mr. Solomon became noted for using thousands of individual dots of pure color, to compose large landscapes and seascapes, and continue telling stories. Sometimes, using acrylics, but using traditional oil paints more and more. The paintings continued to tell stories, and paint scenes from old photographs: Catboats, schooners, fishermen, horse riders, and crop-growers. Men and women with iron in their souls can be seen battling to make a better tomorrow for their children and grandchildren.
In 2005 the True Colors exhibition at the Westin Casuarina Resort included many pictures from things around the world. One of the paintings showed Ethiopian Orthodox Priests who keep the most sacred thing in the world – the Ark of the Covenant, hidden away from sight. Since that time Mr. Solomon has continued to expand his artistic horizons. He never stays the same, but always keeps growing and learning, and has become an internationally-acclaimed artist who has had many exhibitions in cities and art galleries around the world.
More recently, in 2017 The Salt in their Veins exhibition continued the theme of humans finding their place, and making a living from the seas surround them.
But unlike those Ethiopian priests whose calling is to keep the most sacred thing in the world, the Ark of the Covenant, hidden from sight, Mr. Solomon’s calling is, in its way, harder to fulfill. He is one of Cayman’s Artist-Priests, who, using the sacraments of paint and brush, is able to render things in common sight sacred. ~ Christopher Tobutt