“We Have Met Before” – Introduction

 

 

We have met before. Four centuries separate our first meeting when Prospero was graced with the role of thief, merchant and man of God. Our hero was ‘the right worshipfull and valiant night Sir John Haukins, sometimes treasurer of her Majesties navie Roial’; and it is his first Voyage in search of human merchandise.

George Lamming – The Pleasures of Exile (1960)

We Have Met Beforewhich will be on view at the NGJ from September 22 to November 4, reflects on the question of historical forgetfulness and the capacity of art to unearth and to shed new light on what is forgotten or supressed. The four artists—Graham Fagen from Scotland, Joscelyn Gardner from Barbados and Canada, Leasho Johnson from Jamaica and Ingrid Pollard from Guyana and England— and the works selected for this exhibition represent a conversation on the histories of Slavery, the Transatlantic trade, and its present-day implications. Each artist brings a distinctive perspective to this subject area, with work that was created in different locales, different media, from different experiences, and at different points in time.

These subjects are of course not new and commonly appear in modern and contemporary art from the Caribbean and its Diaspora, as well as in other art forms such as dance, drama, literature and music. In Jamaica, the subjects hold a central position in Garvey and Rastafari culture, which has produced a recognizable African Zionist iconography that is prominent in the popular visual culture and the visual arts. The histories of slavery have been very contentious as a subject area in Caribbean art and this is particularly pronounced in public art, as was best illustrated by the intense controversy about Laura Facey’s Redemption Song (2003), Jamaica’s de facto Emancipation monument. This controversy raised many questions about the representational choices and the equally contentious issue of who can legitimately speak about this subject.

We Have Met Before revisits this complex and contentious territory, and acknowledges that much has been suppressed and left unsaid, especially by the former colonizers. The exhibition argues that the subject area needs to be approached as part of an ongoing conversation, in which there is no final word and in which it must be possible for various perspectives to be expressed. The resulting conversations may be difficult but they are necessary, as they are central to the histories that have shaped and continue to shape the contemporary Caribbean world, and it is hoped that this exhibition will contribute to this process. Continue reading

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SAVE THE DATE – “We Have Met Before” Opens on September 22

The National Gallery of Jamaica in partnership with the British Council will be hosting an art exhibition from September 22-November 4, 2017. The show is entitled: We Have Met Before and features Graham Fagen, Joscelyn Gardner, Ingrid Pollard, and Leasho Johnson.

This exhibition revisits the challenging subject of trans-Atlantic slavery and its afterlives in the contemporary world, seen through the eyes of four contemporary artists. Each artist brings a distinctive perspective with work that was created in different locales, different media, and at different points in time.

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Selections from the National Collection: Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds

National Gallery West

National Gallery West is pleased to present its latest exhibition Selections from the National Collection: Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds, which will be on view until mid October 2017. The exhibition is the first in a series of exhibitions that feature aspects of the National Gallery of Jamaica’s collections, while the permanent galleries in Kingston are being refurbished.

The Jamaican artist and charismatic Revivalist Bishop Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds was born in 1911 in Byndloss, a rural St. Catherine community some thirty miles from Kingston. At age sixteen he received his first vision and started traveling the countryside preaching. In the early 1930s he made his way to Kingston and settled in Trench Town where he established his Zion Revival church, the St. Michael Tabernacle. He later relocated to the Olympic Gardens community in western Kingston.

In Trench Town in the mid-forties he began translating his visions and his imaginative transcriptions of biblical…

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Last Sundays – August 27, 2017: feat. the Annabella and Peter Proudlock Collection and Janine Jkuhl

The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programme for August 27, 2017, will feature the Annabella and Peter Proudlock Collection exhibition as well as a musical performance by Janine Jkuhl.

The Annabella and Peter Proudlock Collection exhibition features selections from the collection of Annabella and Peter Proudlock, who were the principals of Harmony Hall gallery in Tower Isle, St Mary. It documents some fifty years of collecting, mostly of Jamaican art but also of art and craft from elsewhere in the Caribbean and Central America. The exhibition tells the story of Harmony Hall, which holds a unique position in the history of Jamaica’s commercial galleries as it has served the local and tourist markets, and focuses on its role in the promotion of Intuitive art. And it also tells the story of a particular group of people who made their lives in post-Independence Jamaica and who were deeply immersed in the cultural and artistic developments of that moment, to which they actively contributed.

Janine Coombs, also known as Jkuhl (pronounced Jay-Cool), is an eclectic singer-songwriter and also an eclectic listener who is influenced by many genres of music. She describes herself as “a beatific musician, songwriter and singer of Classical and IndiePop.” A graduate of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Janine Jkuhl recorded her first Album, STAR GAZE, in the summer of 2009. This album consists of ten inspirational Indie-Alternative-Fusion tracks, to inspire, heal and soothe the mind and soul of listeners. Since then, Janine has written numerous songs showcasing her developing style which she calls “Jkuhl.” She has been featured in RJR 94 FM’s Music Week Acoustiks Live Concert, the Gungo Walk Alternative Music and Art festival, the French Embassy’s Fete De La Musique, the JARIA Reggae Month Show, and the MUZAK Heart and Soul Noise Talent Show at the California State University, just to name a few. She has also been a guest soloist for the Diocesan Festival Choir of Jamaica Concert Series as well as the National Choral of Jamaica’s Elijah Tour. Her single Tempted was rated in the top ten songs of May 2016 on the USA Indie radio show, The John Wayne Show, Maven FM.

Visitors will also be able to view two other temporary exhibitions consisting of selections from the National Collection: New Dialogues and Art of Independence. Doors will be open to the public from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm; the musical programme will start at 1:30 pm. As is customary, admission will be free, along with free guided tours of the exhibitions. Our Gift and Coffee Shops will also be open for business. Proceeds from these as well as contributions to the National Gallery’s donation box are, as always, appreciated and are used to help fund programmes like Last Sundays as well as our exhibitions .

Annabella and Peter Proudlock Collection – Gallery 4: Harmony Hall Intuitives

 

This is, for now, our final post on the Annabella and Peter Proudlock Collection exhibition, which continues until November 4.

Jamaica has a long and rich history of popular and self-taught art but this has not always been fully valued and documented. There have however been several major efforts over the years to recognize the artistic mastery and significance of artists who have come out of this sphere. This started with the recognition of John Dunkley and David Miller Senior and Junior by the nationalist intelligentsia in the 1930s and 40s. In the 1960s, as Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds—a Revivalist bishop — received significant support from the young politician Edward Seaga and Jamaica’s first Director of Tourism, John Pringle. Kapo’s personality and work were, for instance, used in the Tourist Board Board advertising, as part of a campaign to convey that Jamaica was more than just a beach but had a rich and distinctive culture – a campaign which paved the way for later cultural tourism initiatives such as Harmony Hall. The emergence of the Rastafari movement in the 1960s also helped to validate and give visibility to popular cultural production.

The defining moment of what is now labelled as Intuitive art came with the National Gallery of Jamaica’s ground-breaking Intuitive Eye exhibition in 1979,which featured the work of a wide range of self-taught, popular artists such as Dunkley, the Millers and Kapo, as well as several newer exponents.  This exhibition was curated by David Boxer, the National Gallery’s Director/Curator at that time, who coined the term “Intuitive,” as an alternative to derogatory terms such as “primitive” and “naïve.” While the National Gallery’s promotion of the Intuitives was not uncontroversial, it was supported by a passionate group of collectors and enthusiasts. This included Annabella Proudlock, who had been friendly with artists such as Kapo since the 1970s, and Harmony Hall, which opened in 1981, quickly became the main private counterpart of the National Gallery in the promotion of the Intuitives.

Harmony Hall is best known, locally and internationally, for its association with Intuitive art, and particularly its Harmony Hall Intuitives exhibitions, which were held annually from 1982 to 2014. Annabella and Peter Proudlock maintained a close, supportive relationship with the Intuitive artists they exhibited over the years. Not surprisingly, the Intuitives are very well represented in their collection, with many of the works acquired from the Harmony Hall Intuitives exhibitions or directly from the artists.

This gallery highlights works by Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds, Albert Artwell, Allan “Zion” Johnson and Birth “Ras Dizzy” Livingston – all major exponents of Intuitive art. It includes early works by these artists that were acquired before Harmony Hall was established and owned by Annabella, which also illustrates that there was a longer history of association which paved the way for what was later achieved at Harmony Hall.

Annabella and Peter Proudlock Collection – Gallery 3: Living with Art

Another post on the Annabella and Peter Proudlock Collection exhibition, which is on view at the NGJ until November 4.

The thematic structure of this exhibition is designed to encourage the viewer to approach the works on display for their potential to tell particular aspects of the story of Ogden-Proudlock family, and it is important to note that they lived with all of these works at their Te Moana home, in configurations which were often quite different from what is presented in these galleries. This gallery attempts a more intimate look at what it meant to “live” with this extensive collection and the installation in this section reflects less of the conventional gallery aesthetic and more of the reality of living with a large collection.

There were interesting demarcations within the Proudlock home, with the more public areas of the living room displaying their beloved Jamaican Intuitives, most of which are to be found in Gallery Four, but which are represented here by the works of Zaccheus Powell and William “Woody” Joseph. The living area also featured works by friends such as Lisa Remeny, whose surreal work depicted daily life at Te Moana itself, Graham Davis, and Jonathan Routh (whose works on the Harmony Hall theme can be seen in Gallery Two). The exuberance found in the colours and subject matter of the “tourist” art that was mounted in their large kitchen reflected their travels to locales such as Haiti and Costa Rica, while the more intimate areas of the bedrooms held works that were more restful or of personal significance, such as Angela Landels’ portraits of Annabella, Sebastian and Jessica in Gallery One, or works by close friends and frequent Harmony Hall exhibitors such as Colin Garland, Albert Huie and Graham Davis.