The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to announce the receipt of the John Pringle Collection, a major donation of 23 paintings by the Jamaican Intuitive master Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds. The inaugural exhibition of the John Pringle Collection will take place at the Montego Bay Civic Centre from May 2 to June 25.
Hotelier and founder of the famed Round Hill resort, John Pringle was Jamaica’s first Director of Tourism and, after he left Jamaica for England in 1967, continued to play an important role in the promotion of Jamaican tourism and the economy. Pringle had always been strongly interested in Jamaican art and culture, and the important role it should play in sustainable tourism, but started collecting Jamaican art in earnest after he left Jamaica. As his daughter Shawn Tower has argued, this allowed him to maintain his deep connection with his home country. While he also collected other artists, such as Milton George, Omari Ra, and Laura Facey, he assembled a particularly fine group of paintings by Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds and had expressed the desire for this to be returned to Jamaica after his death. We are very privileged to have been the beneficiary of this generosity and vision.
Kapo, there can be no doubt, is one of most important Jamaican artists of the twentieth century and his association with Jamaica’s main African-derived religion, Zion Revival, makes him doubly important. Revival, as the paintings in the John Pringle Collection well illustrate, was Kapo’s main source of inspiration and even those works that do not represent recognizable Revival practices, such as the landscapes, portraits and romantic couples, are illustrative of its life world. Kapo faced prejudice and, even persecution, during his early years, because of the negative stereotypes that surrounded African-derived religions during the colonial era. While some of these may still linger today, it is of great credit to the cultural vision of Edward Seaga, who first brought Kapo to public attention, and John Pringle in the 1960s and, later on, the likes of Annabella Proudlock and David Boxer, that Kapo was given due recognition as a Jamaican master artist and representative of an important and defining African-derived cultural tradition. Kapo received many prestigious awards including Silver and Gold Musgrave Award from the Institute of Jamaica – received in 1969 and 1986 respectively – and the Order of Distinction by the Government of Jamaica in 1977.
The John Pringle Collection of 23 Kapo paintings has joined the 28 paintings and 57 sculptures by the Intuitive master already in the collections of the National Gallery of Jamaica and Kapo is now the best represented artist in the National Collection, which is a just tribute to his significance. The inclusion of these works into the National Collection will also create a more balanced perspective on Kapo: not only an accomplished sculptor but also a prolific and equally accomplished painter.
The John Pringle Collection will be officially handed over at a special function at the Montego Bay Civic Centre on May 1, when Principal Director of Culture, Mr Sydney Bartley, will receive the donation on behalf of the Hon. Olivia Grange, M.P., Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture. The Hon. Edmund Bartlett, M.P., Minister of Tourism, will be the guest speaker on the occasion.
The John Pringle Collection will be on public view at the Montego Bay Civic Centre, Sam Sharpe Square, from Monday, May 2 to Saturday, June 25. Viewing hours will be: Mondays to Fridays, 10 am to 6 pm and Saturdays, 10 am to 3 pm. Admission: $100 for adults and $ 50 for children under 16 and students with ID.
The repatriation and inaugural exhibition of the John Pringle Collection were funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund and the St James Parish Council is a sponsor of the exhibition at the Montego Bay Civic Centre.