Celebrated US cartoonist draws inspiration from Island sojourn

The satirical eye of acclaimed US cartoonist Kevin Kallaugher has been trained fondly on Bermuda this summer — and from tonight, his creations during his stay will appear at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.

The artist, also known as KAL, has worked as the political cartoonist for The Economist magazine for more than 30 years, and his work has been carried by newspapers and magazines worldwide.

Mr Kallaugher is also the editorial cartoonist for The Baltimore Sun. An excerpt from his Bermuda journal appears today in The Royal Gazette.

“Four times a year, Masterworks has artists in residency, culminating in an exhibition of the work produced while they were on the Island — so this is my satirical look at island life, and all my cartoons created over the last three months in Bermuda,” the Baltimore-based artist told The Royal Gazette.

“Given where I am in my career, I’m always game for adventure. I’ve done a lot of travelling and enjoyed the opportunity to meet different people. When this opportunity came up, I thought Bermuda would be a very interesting place to come and see. And it hasn’t disappointed.”

The journal’s opening sequence of drawings shows the artist soliciting advice from Masterworks’ statue of fellow satirist Mark Twain — followed by scenes of salutations, including a rendering of “official greeter” Johnny Barnes, with the observation that at first blush, Bermuda is “an unusually friendly and courteous place”.

In typical Kallaugher style, it’s juxtaposed with the cartoonist imagining himself warmly greeting US strangers with similar expressions of goodwill — only to be surrounded at gunpoint.

“I hope people get, from looking through my cartoons, my deep affection for people and their stories — even at the same time that I can cast a satirical eye and find curiosities and oddities,” he said.

The exhibition’s opening reception runs from 5.30pm to 7pm, and the show continues until Wednesday, August 27.

In addition to his submissions for Masterworks, Mr Kallaugher has continued with his weekly submissions to The Baltimore Sun and The Economist from his bedsit in St George’s.

A range of these works, which from Bermuda were disseminated all over the world, will appear on the walls of the Paget gallery.

The Island has an international reputation as a haven for artists. Asked if any of Bermuda had rubbed off on his latest creations, Mr Kallaugher said that, even for journalists, “all the work you do is in some ways seen through the filter, the prism of your own personal experience. Every adventure you have helps inform you.

“So in addition to the great optics, the generosity of the spirit of people on the Island, I’ve observed the larger picture, the social situation ... in Bermuda you see the big issues played out on a smaller scale, a more human scale. Your hope is that people with good minds can make things come together here. I’ve been left feeling that if there’s no hope here, then there’s no hope for anywhere else.”

Bermuda, he said, offered the unique vantage of “a western polyglot of the US and UK — it’s both far away and in the middle of everything”.

“It’s a little island but it’s a First World nation, and with that, it doesn’t seem far away.”

Mr Kallaugher will remain in Bermuda until the end of this month, when he moves on for presentations around the US and internationally.

He will also tour to promote a published collection of his retrospective: Daggers Drawn: 35 Years of Kal Cartoons in The Economist.

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Published Aug 15, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 14, 2014 at 10:38 pm)

Celebrated US cartoonist draws inspiration from Island sojourn

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