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.)

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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.

 

Save the Date – “John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night” to open on Sunday April 29, 2018

The National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) is pleased to announce the homecoming of the exhibition John Dunkley: Neither Day nor Night April 29-July 29, 2018 after its eight-month run at the Pérez Art Museum in Miami (PAMM) where it was hailed as one of  “the most exciting museum shows around the US in 2017”.

Little in the history of Western art prepares us for Dunkley, wrote the late Dr David Boxer (1946-2017), Dunkley historian and curatorial advisor to PAMM. “There is a hypnotic rhythmic intensity in Dunkley’s paintings that is alien to English and American masters,” John Dunkley (b. 1891, Savanna-la-Mar — d. 1947, Kingston) is considered one of Jamaica’s first and finest ‘Intuitive’ or self-taught artists and the title of the show is a reference to his work’s idiosyncratic mood and palette: detailed, haunting imageries of landscapes, with psychologically and psycho-sexually suggestive underpinnings.

Though a selection of Dunkley’s work is on permanent display at the NGJ, only 50 paintings by Dunkley exist in the world. The exhibition’s return home then gives local audiences the rare opportunity to see this collection of thirty-four (34) paintings and nine (9) sculptures together for the first time since the NGJ Retrospective of his work in 1976.

Aside from his inclusion in the 1939 World’s Fair in San Francisco and the NGJ/Smithsonian travelling exhibition of 1983, Dunkley’s work was relatively unknown in the United States until PAMM’s light shone on Dunkley as a beacon of modern and contemporary art from the Caribbean. The Miami exhibition, organized by Curators Diana Nawi, former Associate Curator at PAMM along with Nicole Smythe-Johnson, independent curator, received rave reviews from ArtForum, Miami Rail, The Huffington Post, among others and art critic Matthew Higgs lamented the fact that he would have included it in his Best of 2017 list had he seen it sooner.

Smythe-Johnson, assisted by the NGJ Curatorial team, will oversee the local abridged installation of the show.  An accompanying monograph will be published and includes: Dr David Boxer’s last essay, which brings together over forty years of research into Dunkley’s life and work; an essay by Olive Senior that contextualises Dunkley within his historical moment; and an essay by the exhibition’s curators.

The monograph and the exhibition together present not only what Dunkley has been for Jamaica and the region, but also what he could become for the world.

In Memoriam Gene Hendricks Pearson O.D. (1946-2018)

Gene Pearson – photograph courtesy of Taynia Nethersole

The National Gallery of Jamaica received the sad news of the passing of Master sculptor, ceramist and teacher Gene Hendricks Pearson O.D. on March 15.

Born in 1946 in Wood Hall St Catherine; Pearson was only 15 years old when he was was first introduced to the medium of clay at the Jamaica School of Art now the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in 1960. He studied under Jamaica’s Master Potter Cecil Baugh with whom he developed a close relationship; Pearson recounted that “…[Baugh] was like a father to me and I was like the son he never have.” He was one of the first two students to graduate from the school with a Diploma in Ceramics in 1965 and subsequently went on to teach at his alma mater for almost eighteen years and also taught drawing and painting at Calabar and Vere Technical High Schools in the early 1970s.

After he stopped teaching at the School of Art he began dividing his time between Jamaica and Northern California working with the Potters Studio in Berkley. He used the facilities there to produce his larger sculptures and his bronze works and also conducted workshops at University of Berkley and participated in exhibitions in California. He was also known to be a keen cultural entrepreneur having opened an eponymous gallery in New Kingston where he sold his ceramic and sculptural works.

While he produced more conventional ceramics, such as vases and bowls, Pearson was best known for his sculptural work, especially his popular heads and masks which celebrated black beauty and dignity. Inspired by the arts of the ancient Nubia and Benin as well as Rastafari culture, the introverted monumentality of his sculptural works made them amongst the most distinctive and recognizable of the artists of his generation.

Gene Pearson – Mother (1992), bronze, Aaron and Marjorie Matalon Collection, NGJ

“I have always thought that my work speaks for me. I am not a man who does speak much. My work is very spiritual. All my powers come from God and nature and I execute them through clay…”

Gene Pearson Raku Head nd

He worked extensively with local clays with varying properties and colours, sourced from locales such as Castleton, Trench Town and Clarendon. His ceramic work also showed the results of his constant experimentation with the ancient Japanese technique of Raku-style firing, of which he was an acknowledged master. The characteristic crackled surface of his Raku ware was used with great finesse in his sculptural forms and had become part of his signature style.

Pearson boycotted the National Gallery for several years while it was at its Devon House location when it didn’t recognize ceramics as fine art and was successful in his mission of gaining greater local recognition for ceramics and ceramic sculpture.

His work is represented in major Jamaican collections, such as the National Gallery of Jamaica, the Bank of Jamaica and the Hardingham Collection, as well as the private collections of international celebrities such as Stevie Wonder, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Diahann Carroll, and Alice Walker. His ceramic works have also served as official Jamaican gifts to Heads of States and other public figures including Leonid Brezhnev of the Soviet Union, Prime Minister Phan Van Dong of Vietnam, President Lopez Portillo of Mexico, President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Roberta Flack, Maya Angelou and President Bill Clinton of the USA.

Gene Pearson – Sculptured Pot (1987), Collection: NGJ, Gift of Ken and Patricia Ramsay

In 2010 the Institute of Jamaica awarded Pearson the Silver Musgrave Medal for outstanding merit for his contribution to the field of art and in 2015, he was awarded the Order of Distinction — Commander Class, for his contribution to the development of the fine arts in Jamaica. This was an upgrade to the Officer Class designation he had received some years prior.

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 Gene Pearson.