M.P. Alladin 

(Trinidad and Tobago, B. 1919 – D. 1980)

 

Born in Tacarigua, Trinidad and Tobago, Mohammed Pharouk Alladin was one of the first visual artists to emerge from the country’s large Indian population. He was most influential, however, as an art educator. He earned his teaching certificate in Trinidad, after the British Council awarded him a scholarship to the Birmingham College of Arts and Crafts; and in the United States he earned his master’s degree from Columbia University. Alladin founded Trinidad’s Art Teachers’ Association, and also served as Director of Culture in the Ministry of Education and Culture for many years. In his own words, “[E]ducation through art should be given the greatest attention if more complete individuals are to be produced by educational institutions.” 

 

Alladin was also a gifted author who produced some notable research papers on Trinidad’s local culture. His written work is still widely used as reference material on Trinidad’s traditions. As a fine artist, Alladin won renown throughout the Caribbean, Latin America, the United States, and Europe, exhibiting in two group shows at the Organization of American States. Most importantly, he was an advocate for the inclusion of both Trinidadian and Indian themes in the work of local artists, at a time when most painters were trained to favor Western or European traditional subject matter. Stylistically, Alladin’s works treat Trinidadian and Indian subjects with a modernist approach.

 

The subjects of M.P. Alladin’s work range from rural scenes depicting the daily life of Trinidadian farmers in the 1970s to urban landscapes of the island; from Hindu festivities—such as the New Year celebration known as Phagwa, a favorite subject of Alladin’s, which reveals the importance of his Indian heritage to his oeuvre—to more experimental scenes, such as his acrylic on canvas The Palms from 1973. The latter work integrates figurative motifs of the island through the use of a palette inspired by its geography, juxtaposing black and red-toned palm fronds over a background that uses the same technique, layering fronds in shades of blue, yellow, and purple. In this way, Alladin combines an organic pattern with a geometric one (a grid). Alladin’s work in the 1970s focused extensively on the exploration of these contrasting patterns. The Palms was shown for the first time at the Organization of American States in 1973 in the exhibition Tribute to Picasso and was acquired for the Organization’s permanent collection in 1976. 

Tribute to Picasso | Homenaje a Picasso  OAS exhibition brochure, 1973
Tribute to Picasso | Homenaje a Picasso OAS exhibition brochure, 1973

Archives of the OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas

Tribute to Picasso | Homenaje a Picasso  OAS exhibition brochure, 1973
Tribute to Picasso | Homenaje a Picasso OAS exhibition brochure, 1973

Archives of the OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas

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