The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to present the In Retrospect: Forty Years of the National Gallery of Jamaica exhibition, which is opening on Sunday, August 31, 2014 and marks the beginning of the Gallery’s fortieth anniversary programme.
It is indeed forty years ago this year, on November 14, 1974 to be precise, that the National Gallery opened its doors at Devon House and the institution, which in 1982 moved to the Roy West Building on the Kingston Waterfront, has grown significantly since then. As it presently stands the National Gallery of Jamaica is the oldest and largest national art museum in the Anglophone Caribbean and its reach and size was further expanded recently with the opening of National Gallery West at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre.
When the original two-hundred and sixty-two paintings and sculptures from the Institute collection arrived in 1974, the National Gallery inherited a set of artworks but not a cohesive art history and one of the first things the Gallery set out to do was to articulate a Jamaican art history. The Gallery’s story of Jamaican art has been told through our exhibitions and publications, through major donations, and through the debates that have surrounded the National Gallery from its earliest years. It is a story about art and artists, art world personalities, about nation building and competing interests and perspectives, and about exploring who Jamaicans are as a people. The task we have set ourselves with In Retrospect: Forty Years of the National Gallery of Jamaica is to tell the story of that story, examining with a critical eye the role the NGJ has played in establishing how Jamaican art is understood. The exhibition consists mainly of key works from our collection and features artists as diverse as John Dunkley, Edna Manley, Ebony G. Patterson, Isaac Mendez Belisario, Mallica ‘Kapo’ Reynolds, Albert Huie, Barrington Watson, Eugene Hyde, Vermon ‘Howie’ Grant, Karl Parboosingh, Leasho Johnson, Carl Abrahams, George Robertson, David Boxer, Laura Facey, Maria LaYacona, Petrona Morrison, Omari Ra, Cecil Baugh, Matthew McCarthy, Everald Brown, Norma Rodney Harrack, A. Duperly and Sons, Osmond Watson, Renee Cox, Marlon James, and Colin Garland. The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue publication with essays by Alissandra Cummins, Annie Paul and Veerle Poupeye.
The exhibition opening on August 31 coincides with the National Gallery’s Last Sundays programme for this month and the Gallery will thus be open to the public from 11 am to 4 pm. The formalities start at 1:30 pm, with the Hon. Lisa Hanna, M.P., Minister of Youth and Culture, as the guest speaker. This will be followed by a musical performance by Black Zebra, featuring Wayne McGregor and David Lazarus, who play a mixture of blues, rock, jazz and soul.
As is customary on Last Sundays, the event on August 31 is free and open to the public. The In Retrospect exhibition will continue until November 15, 2014.