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New exhibit displays abstract thinking

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Antoine Hunt in front of 'The Square, the Circle and the Golden' and 'Squared Off' (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Wait, he paints too? Antoine Hunt’s latest work is miles off the photography he is best known for. Charcoal, oil and gold leaf are predominant in his exhibition, The Golden Triangle. The show at the Bermuda Society of Arts is the first display of his paintings.

He chose the triangle “for obvious and not-so-obvious reasons”.

“Anywhere in the world, every single place I’ve been, that’s the only reference they have of Bermuda. They either have nothing or it’s the triangle,” he laughed.

The exhibit is one he has been mulling over for 20 years, inspired by French “painter of black” Pierre Soulages and American abstract expressionist Mark Rothko.

“You can look at the sand dunes and see a triangle. The roofs are an obvious point; the idea of a triangle being a perfect form,” he explained of his dissection of Bermuda.

Golden Ratio in an Equilateral has a triangle within a triangle; another piece shows the familiar spiral of the nautilus. Each piece explores the golden mean, the desirable middle ground between two extremes.

They are very precise — one wrong angle sets the rest of the painting off kilter.

“What can I say, it’s just mucking around with geometry,” he said. “I’m tied to it but I do have wiggle room within that, so I can allow myself to see other things. I’m always open no matter what my pre-constructed thoughts are. That’s also how I live.”

The 47-year-old splits his time between Bermuda and Berlin with his wife and collaborator, Juliz Ritchie. He’s considering making the jump full-time.

“The idea of constraining myself also plays in my mind to the idea of Bermuda. Maybe it amounts to a midlife crisis,” he laughed.

“It’s really about exploring myself and doing the things that I said I would be doing.”

Just as people are often full of preconceptions about Bermuda, he had his own ideas about Berlin before he made the European city his second home.

“Berlin is an interesting place. I went over there with biases because of its history, but as a city for art it’s a really great place,” he said.

“It’s just me coming to a point, to make the decision to do the things I’ve been thinking about. When I look at the work that I have done it’s a fair amount, but I don’t feel like I’ve done anything, so I have to keep doing.”

Bermuda has afforded him the comforts of a good life close to family.

It also gives him access to the bread and butter of his career, interior architectural photography.

“I can’t call myself the starving artist,” he laughed, patting his stomach. “My way of selling out, as it were, was to invent myself as a commercial photographer because it’s still part of something that I love to do.

“The whole ‘struggle’ of the artist — the commerce versus art and survival — all that gets in the way of expressing oneself, whether it’s on canvas, sculpture or film.”

Mr Hunt has had no formal training. His constant goal is to develop his talent further.

“It started with photography. I was so keen on it, my mother got me my first camera and I just read everything I could possibly get my hands on,” he said.

“I look at the things that are produced outside of here and am always reaching inside myself for a higher standard.

“The driving force is that if I don’t actually produce, I actually go a little crazy.”

The self-labelled foodie and avid adventurer has a few video projects in the works.

His documentary Vintage, a series he made with Peter Backeberg about winemaking in Napa Valley, is playing on PBS. He is also editing a documentary about mescal that he shot in Guanajuato and Mexico City — a project that developed from a short film made previously.

Mr Hunt is also working on a treatment for a TV show about “the anthropology of food”.

“I’m tracing the origins of dishes, how they came about,” he said. “I’m interested in how things work and why we do the things we do. In that way we understand ourselves.”

He is aware his abstracts may be more difficult to digest.

“When I say that I think particularly about a Japanese sculptor I met in Mexico,” he explained. “He would go there for the marble and he made these sculptures that were very intricate. They had at least two pieces that would fit together and balance in some way.

“Somebody described them as high-tech motorcycle parts. He couldn’t sell them in Mexico because the works there typically represent a figure or an ear of corn. Even if it’s abstract, it comes from those folk origins.

“So that’s when I really realised how most people operate, they want to see something that they can relate to. My hope is that the abstraction of the dissection of Bermuda is understood.”

• The Golden Triangle is on display at the BSoA until May 31

Antoine Hunt with his abstract, 'Golden Ratio in an Equilateral' (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Dissection of Bermuda: Antoine Hunt flanked by his paintings Golden Ratio in an Equilateral, left, and The Square, The Circle and The Golden. Below, The Bevan Circle
'The Bevan Circle' by Antoine Hunt. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)