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.
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.
John Dunkley, Banana Plantation (c1945)
While we have temporarily closed the Early Intuitives gallery, to facilitate the next phase of the re-installation of our permanent collection, we present a post on one of the three artists featured in that gallery, John Dunkley (the others are David Miller Senior and Junior). The first part of this post is excerpted from what his widow Cassie Dunkley wrote in 1948, on the first anniversary of her husband’s death, when a commemorative exhibition was held at the Institute of Jamaica. It narrates Dunkley’s early and obviously quite adventurous life as a young Jamaican migrant worker and sailor, followed by his years in Kingston as a struggling artist. The the second part is adapted from a biographical entry written for the Dictionary of Black Artists by NGJ Chief Curator, Dr. David Boxer. John Dunkley was born in Savanna-la-Mar on December 10, 1891 and died in Kingston on February 17, 1947.