Photo of Kareem Ralph Amin's painting, “Harmony,' by Zack Gemmell
Kareem Ralph Amin is a worldly man. Born in Guyana and raised both there and in the neighboring island of Antigua, the 32-year-old's artwork has been exhibited throughout Italy. But, he chooses to live in San Diego.
“My dad used to live out here at one time. He was always fascinated about us coming to live in California,” he says in a light Caribbean accent. “That kind of provoked myself and my other brother that this was a direction which we should venture.
“But, the essence of it, I think it also has to do with a girlfriend, too. They say, ‘Only a woman can make a man's mind change,'” he jokes easily.
Regardless of what brought him here, it is in San Diego where he was able to hone his craft as a self-taught painter.
“I can't speak for everyone else,” he says. “Some of us have natural gifted talents. Sometimes we recognize it and we tap into it very, very early. I realized instinctively my ability to draw; I always recognized it.”
But, Amin did not pursue his passion directly. Instead, he took a more circuitous route, brought on by family and cultural expectations.
“What tends to happen when you're born in most of those British territory islands, your parents instill in you that technology and science will rule the world. The whole fact of the matter is that education is very sound, so that department is where I focused; I basically focused on technology as I was growing up.”
At one point, he accepted a temporary position at a paint company in Barbados, rekindling his artistic interest.
“I was watching how these guys manufacture these colors, and I was just fascinated with it. My natural instinct—that I can create these formulas, put them in the computer and come up with these colors—was beautiful.”
When he came to San Diego, he worked again in paint.
“When I moved here to San Diego, one of my first jobs I took was in a paint corporation as an outside sales rep. In addition to that, when I was at home, I was always painting—that was the driven motivation.”
It was here in this coastal city, busier than his homeland yet with a similar atmosphere, that he created his trademark organic style and began to make a living as a full-time artist.
“In the home I lived in, I was just creating these imaginative figures in my head and came up with different ideas. And that's where I found that type of style, that kind of figurative pattern.”
His “figurative pattern” is evident on the cover of this week's CityBeat. Amin says the piece, “Harmony,” is open to interpretation.
“You know that whatever way you look at it, with two figures together, creating a path and walking in a direction, it tends to have its own subject and its own voice for itself.”
To see Amin's work in person, check out his show at Little Italy's JETT Gallery (989 W. Kalmia St.) later this year. You can also see his stuff at kareemaminfineart.com.