In Brian Talma’s inner world, the colors are as bright as the blue eyes through which he views the outer world. It’s a crystalline hue that flickers with shades of the Caribbean sky and moods of the Caribbean Sea.
And on a brilliant March day on Providenciales, on the dazzling white beach at the Amanyara Resort, the world-class surfer and legendary Barbados beach athlete returned to Turks & Caicos to share those colors with the island’s children and the resort’s guests.
“Do you like to paint?” he asked a group of shy kids as they approached to watch him paint a brightly colored mural.
Their reservation lingered briefly, but soon evaporated before Talma’s famous charisma. It’s a quality that made this proud “Caribbean man” (with grandparents from Barbados, Jamaica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent, he certainly qualifies) a beloved figure on the international surfing and watersports circuits.
Within minutes the hesitant young artists were standing over a table with their host, mixing vivid colors on palettes. Their first brushstrokes were tentative, but within minutes the children were applying paint to surface with the flowing ease Talma modeled for them.
After decades of competition, “deAction Man” Talma is entering a new phase of his life. The beach sports that made him an international celebrity remain a driving force, yet there’s a melodious balance to his emerging outlook, all of it combining to form a concept he calls “Beach Culture.” Take everything that comes to mind when you imagine the perfect beach lifestyle. Then find the perfect tension between activity and relaxation, meditation and socializing. Make sure to leave room for appreciating the physical things that allow people to be fully present in the moment: Flip-flops, baggies, etc.
Somewhere in all of that, between the inner harmony and the endless horizon, lies Talma’s idea. It’s an intersection between his Caribbean identity and something larger. An aspiration. An awareness. An aesthetic. An international passport to a nation without borders.
And for Talma, the art form he calls “Symbolism art” appears to be his intuitive guide to this place he so wants to share. It began as a way to process complex emotions that simply wouldn’t fit into the straitjacket of words. After producing several pieces in his spare time, the athlete noticed something unexpected in his free-spirited work.
“Everything you see there has a strong meaning,” he said. Every image “was a moment I needed to transcend.”
He describes his artistic approach as “utilizing symbols that represent your culture, heritage and ancestry. What I am doing is, I go all around the world and encourage people to create what represents you.”
During his three-day visit to TCI this spring, Talma also caught up with old friends and worked with students from the Edward C. Gartland Youth Center. He talked about empowerment and becoming the best version of yourself.
But whenever the situation allowed, he talked about the power of combining symbolism, art and culture.
His art begins with a question: “What symbol represents you?” But whatever flows from that is what visually represents the artist. In his case, the symbols often include the world around him such as conch, the sun, and waves. But the Mahi Mahi in one of his paintings is no random fish: For Talma, it’s a personal symbol for his recently deceased father. Another difficult moment for him to transcend.
“As a professional athlete, I have had some days I thought I wasn’t going to make it to the next, but I didn’t fall to the ground and cry. I rose and said, ‘You know what? Let me make whatever I am better.’
“Every day is not a good day, but I am a happy man. I give from my heart.”