I spotted him painting at the Finance Administrative Centreon a Saturday night and for a minute I was in a different world—a different time. As one who has a deep appreciation for art, I, naturally, gravitated to his paintings. They pulled me in—there was soul, fire, passion, music, rhythm and finally, magic. It was breathtaking. And as I looked at a beautiful portrait of Lauryn Hill, and what appeared to be a perfect universe, I knew that I had to meet the artist—to explore the depths of his soul, and share his story with the world.
His name I discovered was Gilroy Hippolyte; he wanted to go by the name ‘Gilroy H’ in the art world—it’s how people would remember him one day. And at an early age, it was clear, that Giloroy was going to become an artist of some sort.
“The arts have really and truly been part of my life for quite some time and later on I learnt that it runs in the family; I soon found out that I was related to the St. Omer’s—his (Sir. Dunstan St. Omer, famous artist) children they’re actually cousins of mine so art runs in the blood,” the artist said.
He continued: “It started off like this: any parent would have to face children scribbling on the walls but I guess after a while, mine did not stop, even when I reached a certain age;I would always find myself in a corner somewhere drawing something and eventually they (family) soon realized that it was my calling.”
But it was Ted Sandiford, his former art teacher, who helped him discover the magic of painting.
“When I got to St. Mary’s College (SMC), that’s about 2006, my art teacher Mr. Ted Sandiford asked me whether I was familiar with painting and I informed him that I had never tried before. He provided me with the equipment and the second that paint brush hit the canvas that was it: it was like I was in a familiar zone doing something that I have been doing for quite some time,” he said.
Later, he built a reputation for himself as one of the fastest painters at the school; his love for painting increased with time.
Says Gilroy: “I see myself as a vessel for the artwork; whenever I paint, I just get trapped inthat form of creativity and paint based on the energies that I’m facing at the time. At times I feel the paintings call out to me to be brought into existence.”
But being a full-time artist, as gratifying as it is, can be challenging.
“I would say any artist would be familiar with having to grow up (especially in the Caribbean) where you’re faced with a market or a society that’s not as appreciative for the arts as they should be,” the young artist said.
“Persons (some) would not take into consideration the amount of time and effort that you’ve put into developing that skill and producing artwork.They want it but they would not want to pay what it’s worth,” he added, also stating that art is deeper than a lot of people think.
But despite business being tough at times, Gilroy is not discouraged; positivity, like we’ve been told so many times, is key and he knows it.
“I want to prove to people that even with your challenges no matter how difficult they are, once your heart is in the right place and you really and truly would like to push for everything that you have,you stick to it,” he said adding that his family and friends have been incredibly supportive.
The 27-year-old Gros Islet resident, who is originally from Anse La Raye, has painted an estimated 50 pieces or more—he’s just begun.
Currently, he’s working on a personal project, titled ‘I am Gilroy H’.
“I have hidden behind my art work for quite some time so I’m never really in the spotlight; it’s the artwork that I’ve pushed to be known. I’ve learnt the hard way that you can’t make it as an artist if nobody knows you,” he said, adding that being in the public eye, can be nerve-wracking at times.
He continued: “I’m slowly changing—I want the public to know Gilroy H. The ‘I am Gilroy H’ project consists of me showing up at random locations on the island, taking in different elements from my surroundings and putting it into my abstract work and transforming these areas into an art style; this project is actually part of a new collection that I’m working on called ‘My Island Home.’
When asked what is the best thing he’s ever painted, he responded:
“I like to think of all of my pieces as great works of art; they all have their significant strengths and weaknesses. I tend to look at all of them as a gateway for growth because you would look at a painting or drawing you did three or four years ago and see what it is now and realize just how much you’ve improved, or just how much the different art styles have changed.”
And his favourite thing to paint? “The universe”—it inspired his beloved ‘Galaxy Art’.
As for his long term goals, Gilroy H wants to travel the world, going wherever the art takes him, taking in as many art forms as possible, amongst other things.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, ghippolyteau@hotmail
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter: GilroyH