Panel Discussion: Perspectives on Dunkley

On Saturday July 21, 2018, the National Gallery of Jamaica will be hosting a panel discussion entitled Perspectives on Dunkley at 2:00 pm. Moderated by independent Jamaican curator and writer Nicole Smythe-Johnson who co-curated the critically acclaimed John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night exhibition with independent US-based curator Diana Nawi; the discussion will feature presentations by Deborah A. Thomas and Oneika Russell.  

Conceptualized by Smythe-Johnson this panel will include a presentation by her on Dunkley’s significance from an art historical context; a presentation by Deborah A. Thomas on the role of culture in Jamaica’s Nationalist movements, and also a presentation by Oneika Russell from the perspective of an artist with a particular interest in Dunkley and his influence on other artists. This panel serves as part of the programming for the exhibition John Dunkley Neither Day nor Night, as well as its complementary exhibit Daylight come…Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica.

The critically acclaimed exhibition John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night showcases a once in a lifetime compilation of the work of renowned Jamaican Intuitive artist, John Dunkley (1891-1947) and was originally shown at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). Born in Savanna-la-Mar, Dunkley was of the generation of Jamaicans who travelled to Panama, Costa Rica and Cuba at the beginning of the 20th Century seeking opportunities for work and advancement. His moody paintings and whimsical sculptures reflect his life, experiences and views on Jamaica’s fledgling nationalist movement.

Daylight Come…Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica acts as a complement to John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night. It explores the themes of tourism, immigration and the emergence of cultural nationalism during Dunkley’s lifetime. The exhibition contains rare photographs, artifacts and film footage from the turn of the century and shows the move from ethnographic and oftentimes disparaging depictions of Jamaicans, to the attempts at social and cultural empowerment by the Jamaican Cultural Nationalist movement of the early 1900s; providing further context to Dunkley’s creative output.   

Nicole Smythe-Johnson is a writer and independent curator based in Kingston Jamaica. She studied Humanities, Media and Cultural Studies at Macalester College in St Paul, Minnesota (BA, 2007) and Postcolonial Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds (MA, 2011). She has written for TerremotoMiami RailFlash ArtJamaica Journal and several other local and international publications. In 2016 she was awarded the inaugural Tilting Axis Curatorial Research Fellowship. She visited Scotland, Grenada, Barbados, Suriname and Puerto Rico, looking at curatorial practice in alternative and artist-run spaces. Currently, she is Acting Editor of Caribbean Quarterly, the University of the West Indies’ flagship journal.

Deborah A. Thomas is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.  She is also core faculty in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, holds a secondary appointment with the Graduate School of Education, and is a member of the graduate groups in English, Africana Studies, and the School of Social Policy and Practice.  She is the author of Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation:  Entanglement, Witnessing, Repair (forthcoming), Exceptional Violence:  Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica (2011), and Modern Blackness:  Nationalism, Globalization, and The Politics of Culture in Jamaica (2004).

A graduate of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Oneika Russell completed a diploma in the Painting Department before leaving to study at Goldsmiths College in London in the Centre for Cultural Studies in 2003. While at Goldsmiths, Russell began to integrate her deep interest in combining the practice of Painting with New Media. She went on to complete the Doctoral Course in Art at Kyoto Seika University, Japan concentrating on Animation in Contemporary Art.  Russell is currently a lecturer across The Fine Art and Visual Communication Departments at The Edna Manley College.

The panel discussion is free and open to the public. Persons in attendance will also have an opportunity to view the John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night exhibition and also Daylight Come…Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica both of which close on July 29.  

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Video – Portraits and Abstraction: A Conversation

Portraits and Abstraction: A Conversation from National Gallery of Jamaica on Vimeo.

 

On March 29, 2018 the National Gallery of Jamaica held a panel discussion Portraits and Abstraction: A Conversation with the curators of Explorations V: Portraits in Dialogue and Explorations VI: Engaging Abstraction. It was moderated by independent curator Nicole Smythe-Johnson and the speakers were O’Neil Lawrence (Senior Curator) and Monique Barnett-Davidson (Assistant Curator) respectively.

E-Catalogue for Daylight Come… Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica

For our latest exhibition Daylight Come… Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica (May 27 – July 29 2018) the National Gallery of Jamaica introduces it’s first e-catalogue. E-Catalogues will be created for select exhibitions and, while not as extensive as our print catalogues, will provide notable insight and information on their respective exhibitions, while being easily accessible to the general public.

Click to view “Daylight Come… Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica” E-Catalogue

The exhibition Daylight Come… Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica was curated by Assistant Curator Monique Barnett-Davidson and is inspired by the intuitive artist John Dunkley. It is a complement to the National Gallery of Jamaica’s staging of the John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night Exhibition, and looks at the context and times in which Dunkley was living.

(John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night was organized by Pérez Art Museum Miami. It was curated by Diana Nawi with Nicole Smythe-Johnson. David Boxer served as curatorial advisor on the exhibition. This exhibition was sponsored by Davidoff Art Initiative.)

In Memoriam Albert Artwell (1942-2018)

Albert Artwell holding “Black Star Liner”. Image courtesy of Jessica Ogden.

The National Gallery of Jamaica has received the sad news of the passing renowned intuitive painter Albert Artwell.

Albert Artwell was born in 1942 to farming parents in Catadupa St. James. He attended school in the same district and eventually became a farmer himself. At the age of 26 he grew locks after having visions of the Biblical prophets Abraham and Moses and saw himself as a shepherd of the Rastafari faith. Deeply religious, he differentiated himself from other Rastafari claiming to be a ‘Hebrew,’ “because he recognized Abraham as the father of the Israelites.” The genesis of his artistic production can be traced back to the highly decorated hardboard panels on which he used to write verses from the Bible that held personal significance for him.  Religious visions played a critical role in his artistic development, as they were noted as the inspiration for his decision in 1975 to begin illustrating scenes from the Bible which proved to be recurrent themes in his painting for the rest of his career.

Albert Artwell – City of Africa (1978, Collection: NGJ)

His paintings utilized the archaic compositional device of vertical stacking, which is found in Egyptian art and other African artistic traditions including Ethiopian Illuminated Manuscripts.  The sometimes seemingly arbitrary scale of his figures, are also related to a hieratic compositional mode found in medieval and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics in which the relative importance of the figures in the work, relate to the artist’s concept of their importance in the narrative presented.

Dr David Boxer in his essay Introducing Fifteen Intuitives described his work as “wondrous visions caught in intricate drawings that seem to chart the very wanderings and yearnings of his soul”…His iconography, however has been clearly updated by his obvious Black Rasta consciousness. Thus in a Crucifixion for example, Christ will be black (‘The Sufferer’) and his tormenting soldiers will be white – sometimes dressed in the garb of British colonial officers”  

His work was exhibited locally in the Fifteen Intuitives and the Intuitive Eye at the National Gallery of Jamaica and internationally in the critically acclaimed Jamaican Art 1922-82 exhibition staged at several North American venues by the Smithsonian Institution Travelling Exhibition Service (SITES); The Commonwealth Institutes Jamaican Intuitives staged in London, Sheffield and Edinburgh in 1986 and Redemption Songs: The Intuitive Artists of Jamaica which toured the United States from 1999-2002 and most recently the Jamaica Jamaica! Exhibition staged last year at the Philharmonie de Paris which travelled to Brazil and is currently on show at the SESC 24 de Maio in São Paulo.

Over the years his work was very popular with collectors of Jamaican Intuitive art and he developed a close working relationship with several of the galleries that represented him in particular the Harmony Hall Gallery in Ocho Rios and the Gallery of West Indian Art in Montego Bay.

Albert Artwell – The Birth of Jesus (n.d.), Annabella and Peter Proudlock Collection

“Artwell’s religious work and especially his recasting of Christ’s story and mission, indeed the very essence of Christianity, in his terms as a proud and dignified Black man, is his indelible gift to the visual arts of Jamaica”

In 2003 Albert Artwell received a bronze Musgrave Award from the Institute of Jamaica for Outstanding Merit in the Field of Art.

The Board of Directors and the staff of the National Gallery of Jamaica wish to extend their deepest condolences to the family and friends of Albert Artwell.

Last Sundays June 24 to ft. Amina Blackwood-Meeks + Anomaly

 

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programming for June 24th will feature storytelling by Amina Blackwood-Meeks and the visual and performing arts group Anomaly. The exhibitions John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night and Daylight Come: Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica will also be on view.

 

Storyteller, Amina Blackwood-Meeks

 

Performing arts group, Anomaly

 

ABOUT THE PERFORMERS

Both exhibitions are filled with stories of Jamaican histories which are rich in their potential to inspire storytellers and on this Last Sunday we welcome writer, director, performer, and custodian of the oral tradition, Dr. Amina Blackwood-Meeks. Widely acclaimed for her contribution to the renaissance of the traditional Caribbean storytelling art form, Blackwood-Meeks communicates both traditional and modern tales and her “…deep, rich, dramatic and deliberate voice brings stories from the heads of the ancestors, connecting ancient wit and wisdom with modern needs.” Her performance on Sunday has been inspired by closely interfacing with the current exhibitions and is guaranteed to delight children and adults alike.   See her website at http://aminablackwoodmeeks.com/.

Formed in 2016, the creative arts company Anomaly interweaves dance and drama to bring about the personal and social development of their performers and audiences. Anomaly has produced an annual creative arts festival and a creative arts summer camp for children. In their own words “We believe in the interaction of creative minds to amplify the art industry in Jamaica.”

ABOUT THE EXHIBITIONS

Originally exhibited at the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) in 2017 and considered to be one of the most exciting shows that year in the USA, John Dunkley Neither Day nor Night showcases a once in a lifetime compilation of the work of renowned Jamaican Intuitive artist, John Dunkley (1891-1947). Born in Savanna-la-Mar, Dunkley was of the generation of Jamaicans who travelled to Panama, Costa Rica and Cuba at the beginning of the 20th Century seeking opportunities for work and advancement. His moody paintings and whimsical sculptures reflect his life, experiences and views on Jamaica’s fledgling nationalist movement. The National Gallery’s version of the exhibition, which opened on April 29 and closes on July 29, contains important new work not shown at PAMM.

Exploring themes of tourism, immigration and the emergence of cultural nationalism during Dunkley’s lifetime; Daylight Come…Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica acts as a complement to John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night. The exhibition contains rare photographs, artefacts and film footage from the turn of the century leading into the Jamaican Nationalist era and provides further context to Dunkley’s creative output. It explores the work of his contemporaries David Miller Snr and David Miller Jnr, Carl Abrahams, Albert Huie, David Pottinger, Ralph Campbell and Henry Daley among others; and shows the move from ethnographic and oftentimes disparaging depictions of Jamaicans, to the attempts at social and cultural empowerment by the aforementioned artists and others of the Jamaican Cultural Nationalist movement of the early 1900s. This exhibition, which opened on May 27, will also be on view until July 29.

Doors will open to the public from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Storytelling by Amina Blackwood-Meeks will begin at 1:30 p.m followed by Anomaly’s performance. As is customary on Last Sundays, admission and guided tours are free, but contributions to the Donations Box located in the Coffee Shop are appreciated. These donations help to fund our Last Sunday’s events. The National Gallery’s Gift Shop and Coffee Shop will also be open for business.

“Daylight Come…Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica” to open at National Gallery’s on Last Sundays on May 27, 2018

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programme for the month of May will mark the opening of a new exhibition Daylight Come…Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica. It will also feature a special ensemble musical performance as part of Lupus Awareness month activities.

Daylight Come…Picturing Dunkley’s Jamaica complements the John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night exhibition which opened on April 29.This retrospective of Dunkley’s work was curated by independent curator Diana Nawi, formerly of the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), and Nicole Smythe-Johnson, independent Jamaican curator and writer. Originally shown at PAMM in 2017, this version includes six works that were not part of that initial exhibition.

John Dunkley – Diamond Wedding (1940), Collection: National Gallery of Jamaica (Gift of Cassie Dunkley)

This new exhibition Daylight Come… explores themes such as tourism, immigration and the emergence of cultural nationalism in Jamaica during Dunkley’s lifetime. The exhibition provides further context to Dunkley’s creative output; exploring the works of his contemporaries David Miller Snr and David Miller Jnr, Carl Abrahams, Albert Huie, David Pottinger, Ralph Campbell and Henry Daley among others. This exhibition will be on view until July 29, 2018.

The Millers in 1964

May is Lupus Awareness Month and the special musical performance this Last Sundays serves as one of the activities to raise awareness to this life-altering disease. The music, poetry and dance that will be performed are all inspired by the emotional states experienced by someone with Lupus. The various performers include members of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Jamaica, the Jamaica Youth Chorale, the Porter Centre for Knowledge and The Music House.

Edna Manley – Prayer/Kneeling Figure, (1937)

As is now customary for our Sunday programmes, the doors will be open to the public from 11 am to 4 pm and the special musical performance starts at 1:30 pm. Admission and guided tours will be free. The gift and coffee shop will also be open for business.