Clement Siatous solo exhibition at Simon Preston Gallery

Simon Preston Gallery is delighted to present Sagren, a solo exhibition of paintings by Chagossian artist Clement Siatous. The exhibition, curated by Paula Naughton, opens on 12 September and will run until 17 October, 2015.

Clement Siatous was born in 1947 on the Chagos Islands, a small isolated archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean. He spent most of his childhood on the island of Diego Garcia until he and his family were forcibly evicted. The entire population of the islands were expelled by the British Government to make way for a US naval base in 1973.

The UK Government was responsible for creating a fiction that a permanent population never existed on the Chagos Islands. This claim was made easier to uphold due to sparse photographic documentation that until recently mainly existed in dispersed military and government archives. As with many evicted Chagossians, compelled to leave their belongings behind, Siatous had no documentation of his heritage. In direct response to the continued political denial, he began to render a counterpoint to this official record.

Working with acrylic on canvas and employing vivid color, Siatous illustrates his former everyday life in exhaustive detail, documenting the villages and homes of Chagos as well as its copra and fishing industries. The works in the exhibition form part of a comprehensive chronicle of life on the islands. As a further conceptual device, many of the paintings bear the date of a specific memory. ‘Plagede Perhos Banhos, 1954’, painted in 2012, portrays a bustling scene depicting Chagossian food and culture, traditional tools, woven baskets, hand-made fishing boats, and different stages of the copra industry. Siatous considers each painting a political act, becoming a platform on which to confront the governments that evicted them.

Siatous describes his process as ‘self imagination’, a means of claiming ownership of his own history. His work embodies the Chagossian condition of Sagren, the Creole term used to describe the profound sorrow and longing for a denied homeland. Through his own personal journey of recollection, Siatous issues a defiant rebellion.

Please visit Simon Preston Gallery for further information.

One Comment

  1. Tristan Bréville April 18, 2016 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    Comment…Nice that Paula Naughton curated Siastous’s exhibition! Thanks in the name of all Chagossians leaving miserably in Mauritius.
    This morning I made two photographic portraits of Clément Siatous in my Photographic Museum.
    The Mauritian Art Museum I founded houses some large primitive paintings by C. Siatous.
    He is a leading artist here but it seems that he is not living as a happy chagossian artist.
    Blessed the days when the’ll go back.
    This is why I invite President Obama to visit Mauritius and to meet these Chagossians. As a black US President, he owes us this.

Leave A Comment