Further to our tribute to Prof. the Hon. Barrington Watson, O.J., who passed away on Tuesday, January 26, we have mounted a special display of some of Barrington’s key works from our collections, namely: Mother and Child (1958-59), Self-Portrait (1962), Barbara (1962), Dancer at Rest (c1962), Washer Women (1966), Conversation (1981) and Samantha’s World (1962). Works by Barrington from our collections can also be seen in the A.D. Scott Galleries, which presently feature his Portrait of A.D. Scott (1970) and Michael and Fidel (1977), both from the A.D. Scott Collection, and in the Explorations IV: Masculinities exhibition, which features Triangle (1972, A.D. Scott Collection), Athlete’s Nightmare II (1962, A.D. Scott Collection), Portrait of the Rt. Hon. Michael Manley (1975), and Fishing Village (1996, Aaron and Marjorie Matalon Collection).
The National Gallery of Jamaica is deeply saddened by the news that Jamaica master artist Professor the Honourable Barrington Watson, O.J., has passed away yesterday, January 26, at age eighty-five.
Barrington Watson – or Barrington, as he is popularly known – was born in Hanover, Jamaica, in 1931. He was educated at the prestigious Royal College of Art in London and attended several other major European art academies, including the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris and the Rijksacademie in Amsterdam. He returned to Jamaica in 1961 and quickly rose to prominence as a major artist in post-Independence Jamaica. Along with Eugene Hyde and Karl Parboosingh, he established the Contemporary Jamaican Artists’ Association in 1964 and he was from 1962 to 1966 the first Director of Studies at the Jamaica School of Art (now part of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts), where he introduced the full-time diploma programme. He subsequently also acted as a visiting Professor at Spelman College in Atlanta. Barrington chaired the Bank of Jamaica art collection in the mid-1970s and operated several art galleries: Gallery Barrington, which has existed in several incarnations since 1974, and the Contemporary Art Centre, which was active from 1985 to 1998. His home in the parish of St Thomas, Orange Park, is recognized as a heritage site. It is part of a former coffee plantation and it has since he bought the property in 1968, served as the location of his main studio and a meeting place for artists and art lovers. Barrington left Orange Park to the Nation in 1994.
Essentially an academic realist, Barrington explored a wide range of themes and genres in his work, including history painting, genre, portraits and self-portraits, nudes, erotica, the landscape and the still life, ranging from the intimate to the epic and all interpreted with his unique painterly sensibility. Barrington insisted on being recognized as an artist first and as a Jamaican artist second but most of his paintings were inspired by Jamaica and its people and he produced some of the most iconic images in Jamaican art history, such as Mother and Child (1958-59) and Conversation (1981) in the National Gallery of Jamaica Collection. Although he is best known as a painter, Barrington was also an accomplished draughtsman and printmaker.
Barrington executed several major commissions, including the mural The Garden Party (1975) and the installation Trust (1975, with Cecil Baugh) at the Bank of Jamaica, and the mural Our Heritage (1974) at Olympia in Kingston. He executed many official portraits, including those of past Prime Ministers of Jamaica, of Martin Luther King (1970) at Spelman College, and of former Commonwealth Secretary-General and UWI Chancellor Sir Shridath Ramphal at the University of the West Indies – Mona (1992) and Marlborough House in London (1995). His work is well represented in the National Gallery of Jamaica Collection, with masterworks such as Mother and Child (1958-59), Washerwomen (1966), Athlete’s Nightmare II (1966), Conversation (1981) and Fishing Village (1996), and he is featured in many other public, corporate and private collections in Jamaica and internationally.
Barrington Watson received many awards and accolades during his lifetime. These include the national orders, the Order of Distinction, Commander Class, in 1984, the Order of Jamaica in 2006, and the Institute of Jamaica’s Gold Musgrave Medal in 2000. The National Gallery of Jamaica honoured Barrington with a major retrospective in 2012, which was curated by the then Chief Curator Dr David Boxer and guest curator Claudia Hucke and presented as part of the National Gallery’s Jamaica 50 programme.
The National Gallery’s Chairman, Mr Peter Reid, lauded Barrington for his outstanding contribution to the development of Jamaican art, as an eminent artist and art educator and as a role model to many artists in Jamaica, the Caribbean and the African diaspora. He stated “Barrington is a true national icon and we will treasure his artistic legacy for many generations to come.” The National Gallery’s Executive Director Dr Veerle Poupeye added: “Barrington Watson was a defining figure in post-Independence Jamaican art and his work reflects the spirit and imagination of Independent Jamaica. He was instrumental in the professionalization of the Jamaican art world and an outspoken and influential voice in the development of modern art in Jamaica.” Barrington Watson served on the National Gallery Board for several years.
The Board, Management and Staff of the National Gallery of Jamaica pay tribute to Barrington Watson, as one of Jamaica’s greats, and extend their heartfelt condolences to his wife Doreen, his children Janice, Raymond, Basil, Bright and Shauna-Kay and his other family members and friends.
The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to announce that Barrington: A Retrospective, an exhibition of more than 250 paintings, drawings and original prints by Jamaican master artist Professor the Hon. Barrington Watson, OJ, will be held over until April 29. The exhibition was originally scheduled to close on April 14.
In light of the success of our recent test of Sunday opening hours, furthermore, the National Gallery will exceptionally be open on Sundays April 22 and April 29, from 11 am to 4 pm on both days. This will give viewers who have not yet seen the Barrington Watson retrospective additional opportunity to view this important exhibition before it closes.
The National Gallery of Jamaica will be open to the public this Sunday, March 25 as part of a programme to test the viability of regular Sunday opening hours.
On this ‘test Sunday’ the Gallery will open from 11 o’clock in the morning until 3 o’clock in the afternoon and will offer free tours (regular tours start at 11:30am and 12:30am respectively and a special children’s activity tour at 1:00pm) as well as musical entertainment. Participation in activities will be on a “first come, first served” basis – the maximum number of persons on a tour is 30.
The National Gallery is currently exhibiting the Barrington Watson retrospective, which features paintings and works on paper from the late 1950s to the present, exploring the major themes in the artist’s work.
We look forward to seeing you on Sunday!
The National Gallery of Jamaica and the Olympia Gallery are pleased to announce that Professor the Hon. Barrington Watson, OJ, will be available to sign copies of the catalogue publication Barrington: A Retrospective (2012), on Saturday, February 25, from 12 noon to 4 pm. This event will take place at the Olympia Gallery, 202 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6 and the public is invited.
For educational purposes only.
This exhibition has been kindly sponsored by Jamaica National Building Society, Scotia Private Client Group, Island Car Rentals, Gleaner, Stewart’s Automotive, Pan-Jamaican Investments, Mayberry Investments and Wysinco.