Selections from the National Collection: Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds

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 events into paintings. Most of these early works, it is said, were lost when they were confiscated by the police as evidence of Obeah practice. By 1950, he had begun to carve, first in stone and then in wood. His unique artistic talents were discovered and supported by several influential patrons, such as the later Prime Minister Edward Seaga, who conducted ethnographic research on Revivalism, and the hotelier John Pringle, who served as Jamaica’s first Director of Tourism and who was committed to asserting the cultural identity of Jamaica in the tourism industry. While he encountered significant prejudice during his early years, Kapo’s stature in the Jamaican art world rose rapidly in the 1960s and by the time of his death in 1989 he was recognized as one of the most significant Jamaican artists of the twentieth century, and a key exponent of the so-called Intuitive, or self-taught genre.

Many of Kapo’s paintings and sculptures depict his cultural milieu, including portraits of those around him and scenes from daily life. He was also a fine landscape painter and he was fond of depicting the environment of his childhood, the hills and valleys of St. Catherine’s interior. Other works are more spiritual in nature and were clearly inspired by his visions and practices as a Zion Revivalist leader. Some of his works have erotic overtones and joyfully celebrate the nude human body and sexuality.

This exhibition consists of important paintings and sculptures from the National Gallery of Jamaica collections, selected from the main collection and three special collections, namely the Larry Wirth Collection, the John Pringle Collection and the Aaron and Marjorie Matalon Collection. The Larry Wirth Collection was a major acquisition in 1982, when the collection of Kapo paintings and sculptures of the American hotelier Larry Wirth was acquired in its entirety by the Jamaican government. The other two collections were major donations to the National Gallery: the John Pringle Collection is a specialized collection of Kapo’s paintings which was received in 2011, and the Aaron and Marjorie Matalon Collection is a comprehensive collection of historical and modern Jamaican art which was received in 1999. Aaron Matalon served as the National Gallery’s Chairman for many years and was a major benefactor of the arts in Jamaica.

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JAMAICA BIENNIAL 2017 AT NATIONAL GALLERY WEST FEATURES DAVID GUMBS’ XING WANG VIDEO INSTALLATION

2017-biennial-invitation-montego-bayThe Jamaica Biennial 2017, the National Gallery of Jamaica’s flagship exhibition, is shown at three locations, namely at the National Gallery and Devon House in Kingston and at National Gallery West in Montego Bay. At National Gallery West, which is located at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Sam Sharpe Square, the Biennial will feature an interactive video installation by the Martinique-based David Gumbs. This exhibition will open to the public on Friday, February 24 at 7 pm. The guest speaker will be His Worship Homer Davis, the Mayor of Montego Bay, and the artist David Gumbs will be in attendance.

david-gumbs-dome-2David Gumbs is one of six specially invited international artists in the Jamaica Biennial 2017, who exhibit along with more than 80 artists from Jamaica and the Jamaican Diaspora, and the inclusion of these international artists is part of the National Gallery’s efforts to give the Biennial a stronger international outlook, with a focus on the Caribbean region. David Gumbs (1977, St Martin) studied at the Visual Arts School in Fort-de-France, Martinique, in 2001 and majored in interactive multimedia conception at Les Ateliers, L’ENSCI in Paris in 2002. His work has been shown nationally and internationally, including recently: Digital (2016), National Gallery of Jamaica; Video Islands (2015), Anthology Film Archives, New York; Transforming Spaces (2014), National Art Gallery of the Bahamas; Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (2014); and the Martinique Biennial (2013), Fort-de-France. Since 2009, Gumbs teaches multimedia, transmedia and motion design at the Visual Arts School in Fort-de-France, Martinique.

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Gumbs in 2016 participated in a Davidoff Initiative residency in Beijing, China, and his contribution to the Jamaica Biennial 2017 consists of an interactive video installation titled Xing Wang (Blossoms), which he developed during that residence. The video consists of five synchronized projections, four on a lace cube structure that stands on the gallery floor and one into the dome of National Gallery West. The mesmerizing, constantly moving abstracted video imagery is, as the title suggests, drawn from patterns in nature and will be sound-activated. This will be done in two ways: one is by capturing the sounds of the city of Montego Bay, which will be done live with an external microphone; the other is by means of a sensor built into a conch shell which is mounted in the middle of the installation, in which visitors can blow to activate the imagery.

david-gumbs-cube-2The Jamaica Biennial 2017 opening event at National Gallery West on February 24 is free and open to the public. The main opening event of the Jamaica Biennial 2017 will take place two days later, on February 26 at 1:30 pm, at the National Gallery of Jamaica in Kingston, and is also free and open to the public. The Biennial will be on view at all locations until May 28, 2017.

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“Marcia Biggs: Impressions of Life” Opens on December 18, 2016

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The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to announce the Marcia Biggs: Impressions of Life exhibition, which will open at National Gallery West at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre on Sam Sharpe Square on Sunday, December 18, 2016. The exhibition explores the work of the popular Montego Bay-based artist Marcia Biggs, through examples borrowed mainly from private and corporate collections in Western Jamaica.

Marcia Biggs was born in 1960 in Montego Bay, where she was based for most of her life. She was trained at the Mico Teachers’ College, and she was tutored by Cecil Cooper and served as an apprentice with Barrington Watson. She taught art at the Herbert Morrison High School from 1983 to 1987, after which she became a full-time artist. She participated in several of the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Annual National exhibitions and had noted solo exhibitions at the Bay Gallery in Montego Bay and the Bolivar Gallery in Kingston. Marcia Biggs was also a long-standing member of the Western Jamaica Society of Fine Arts.

Marcia Biggs —or Biggs, as she was affectionately known—died unexpectedly at age 38 in 1998 but left behind a significant and diverse body of realist oil paintings, watercolours and drawings. Most of her subjects were fairly conventional, and included garden scenes and flowers, architectural details, landscapes, still lifes, and portraits—many of them inspired by the Montego Bay environment—but she also produced more daring male and female nudes and erotica. While she was a technically proficient oil painter and watercolourist, Biggs’ drawing skills were truly exceptional, especially when applied to the human form.

The exhibition opening of Marcia Biggs: Impressions of Life on December 18, 2016 will be from 4 to 6 pm and the artist’s sister, Dr Grace-Ann Biggs-Allen, will be the guest speaker. The opening function is free and open to the public and an illustrated catalogue will be available for sale. Marcia Biggs: Impressions of Life will continue at National Gallery West until February 11, 2017.

“Caribbean in Motion” To Be Shown at National Gallery West

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National Gallery West, the Montego Bay branch of the National Gallery of Jamaica, is pleased to present the Caribbean in Motion: Improving Lives through Artistry and Animation, an exhibition of work by Caribbean animators, which is presented in Jamaica in association with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Caribbean in Motion will be on view at National Gallery West from October 2 to November 20, 2016.

Caribbean in Motion was organized as a partnership between the IDB and the Animae Caribe Caribbean Animation Festival and earlier this year shown at the IDB Cultural Center in Washington, DC. The exhibition highlights some of the most captivating and imaginative animation and illustration in the Caribbean today, including works by Makesi Aquan, Danielle Blaize, Mathew Hudson, Alison Latchman, Anieph Latchman, Wendell McShine, Khia Poitier, Ansar Sattar, Steven Schmid and Marlo Scott. Caribbean in Motion explores the multifaceted social and economic benefits generated by the animation industry, underscoring the importance of nurturing a vibrant creative economy. Animation, the art of illustrating video sequences, has huge potential as both a business and an art form that supports sustainable social and economic development in the Caribbean. While the IDB has organized and hosted several exhibitions of Caribbean art over the years, Caribbean in Motion is the first such exhibition to be toured in the Caribbean region. The exhibition was curated was produced by the IDB’s Office of External Relations, which seeks to leverage creativity and the creative industries to futher the IDB’s mission of improving lives. The IDB’s curator will be leading curatorial tours of the exhibition on its first day, October 2.

Caribbean in Motion will be on view at National Gallery West during FOROMIC, Latin America and the Caribbean’s most important annual event on microfinance and entrepreneurship, which will take place at the Montego Bay Convention Centre from October 24 to 26, 2016.  FOROMIC is a space for business and financial innovations, and in particular a platform for microfinance, which has demonstrated that serving low-income households and small businesses is possible, sustainable and profitable.  The cultural industries are an important area of focus at FOROMIC. FOROMIC is supported by the IDB and staged in association between the IDB Multilateral Investment Fund and the Jamaican Ministry of Finance and the Public Service. (more…)

Jamaica Biennial 2017: Call for Submissions – Juried Section

National Gallery of Jamaica Blog

Jamaica Biennial 2016 - Call for submissions

The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to invite submissions for the juried section of upcoming Jamaica Biennial, which will now be held from February 26 to May 28, 2017 and will thus be the 2017 Jamaica Biennial.

The Jamaica Biennial, previously known as the National Biennial, is the National Gallery’s flagship biennial exhibition. Designed to encourage the development of art in Jamaica and its local and international exposure, the Jamaica Biennial includes works of art in all media and genres by a wide variety of artists who enter the exhibition through the jury system or by special invitation. The juried section is open to all artists resident in Jamaica and of immediate Jamaican descent, irrespective of residence. While thus mainly focused on the Jamaican and Jamaican Diaspora artists, the exhibition now also includes a select number of specially invited Caribbean and other international artists. The exhibition will…

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Michael Lester: A Montego Bay Artist Opens on July 24

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The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to present the Michael Lester: A Montego Bay Artist exhibition, which will open at National Gallery West at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre on Sunday, July 24.
The exhibition comprises work by the Polish-born artist Michael Lester, who lived and worked in Montego Bay from 1953 until his death in 1972. He made the city, its people and its environs his main subject, in lyrical expressionist paintings that celebrated the beauty and unique character of Jamaica. Lester, whose birth name was Leszczynski, was a popular figure in the Montego Bay community and along with his wife Peggy ran the Lester Gallery, one of the first art galleries in the city. His work was supported by local art lovers and tourist visitors alike and is represented in many private, corporate and public collections, including the collection of the National Gallery of Jamaica. The exhibition is the first in an open-ended series of National Gallery West exhibitions that will explore the artistic life in Western Jamaica.
Michael Lester: A Montego Bay Artist is curated by the National Gallery of Jamaica’s senior curator O’Neil Lawrence. The National Gallery of Jamaica had in 2006 organized another, larger exhibition titled Michael Lester: Picturing Paradise, which was staged on the occasion of the centenary of Lester’s birth. While there is some overlap between the two exhibitions, Michael Lester: A Montego Bay Artist also features works from Montego Bay collections that had not been exhibited before. An illustrated catalogue will be published and will be available for purchase at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre.
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Michael Lester – Hanover (1958), Private Collection

The Montego Bay Attorney-at-Law Nathan Robb will be the guest speaker at the July 24 opening function of Michael Lester: A Montego Bay Artist, which will start at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre at 4 pm. This event is preceded by Classics on the Cobblestone, a programme that features music and dance by ensembles from the Montego Bay community. Both events are free and open to the public.
The Michael Lester: A Montego Bay Artist” exhibition will continue at National Gallery West until September 18. National Gallery West is located at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Sam Sharpe Square, Montego Bay.

MASCULINITIES EXHIBITION TO OPEN AT NATIONAL GALLERY WEST IN MONTEGO BAY ON MAY 1

The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to present a new exhibition, titled Masculinities, at National Gallery West, its branch at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Sam Sharpe Square, Montego Bay. The exhibition will be on view at National Gallery West from May 1 to July 17, 2016. The opening reception will be on Sunday, May 1 at 4 pm, with entertainment by Joshua Clarke.

Masculinities explores how masculinities – and the use of the plural is deliberate – have been represented in Jamaican art and visual culture. In doing so, the exhibition also explores how various masculine roles and identities, and the perceptions that surround them, have evolved in the Jamaican context. The exhibition includes work by artists from the nineteenth century to the present, such as Isaac Mendes Belisario, Albert Huie, Osmond Watson, Barrington Watson, Rose Murray, Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds, Ebony G. Patterson, Leasho Johnson, Wade Rhoden, Peter Dean Rickards, and Vermon “Howie” Grant. Masculinities is an abridged version of the Explorations IV: Masculinities exhibition which was shown at the National Gallery of Jamaica in Kingston earlier this year. Both exhibitions were curated by the National Gallery’s Senior Curator, O’Neil Lawrence.

For more information on National Gallery West and the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, please visit the MBCC website at: <montegobayculturalcentre.org> or the National Gallery West blog at: <nationalgallerywest.wordpress.com>. For more information and tour bookings, please call: (876) 971-3920 / (876) 940-6402 or email: montegobayculturalcentre@outlook.com.

 

Seven Women Artists (September 29, 2015-extended to February 21, 2016)

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National Gallery West is pleased to present a new exhibition, Seven Women Artists, which will open its doors on September 29, 2015 and has been extended until February 21, 2016. Seven Women Artists was originally presented at the National Gallery of Jamaica in Kingston, and was curated by O’Neil Lawrence, the National Gallery’s Senior Curator. It featured new and recent work by seven oustanding mid-career female artists, who live and work in Jamaica or are from Jamaica: Kereina Chang Fatt, Miriam Hinds-Smith, Amy Laskin, Prudence Lovell, Berette Macaulay, Judith Salmon, and Jasmine Thomas-Girvan. The present exhibition at National Gallery West represents a selection of work from the original exhibition, also curated by O’Neil Lawrence, and features up to three works by each of the seven artists, or fourteen works of art in all. The questions raised by the exhibition however remain the same:

The feminist movement produced major activist challenges to what had been a significant blind spot in the dominant art historical narratives: the marginalization of female artists and of what could be defined as “women’s art.” This campaign was spearheaded by feminist art historians such as Linda Nochlin and activist groups such as Guerilla Girls and has extended globally, into many different socio-cultural contexts. As a result, women artists are now receiving more recognition in art-historical and institutional narratives but the project is far from complete and women artists are still at a disadvantage compared to their male counterparts, in terms of the dynamics of recognition and exposure.

Feminist art activists have argued that a major reason why female artists have been marginalized is that much of what they have historically produced does not fit dominant notions about “fine art.” The response to this has involved reclaiming and validating such “women’s work” and many feminist artists have embraced traditional “craft” media such as embroidery and quilting. Another area of feminist art activism has involved challenging the dominant representations of women in mainstream art, which have typically reflected male perspectives, and representing female themes from an assertively “female” perspective. This has involved at times provocative representations of female sexuality and the female body that illustrate the extent to which the personal is the political in this context. Such politicized conceptions of “women’s art” have however also been critiqued by those who feel that this pigeonholes female artists, who should be empowered to claim any artistic theme or medium they wish to pursue, without being tied down or defined by their gender.

The question this exhibition asks is whether these debates have any relevance in the Jamaican context. Some may argue that such issues are not relevant here since there is gender equality in the Jamaican art world. The gender balance we see today is a recent development and is mainly a numerical one, however, which is complicated by factors such as race and class. The subject also has special urgency because of the social pressures and dangers that face women and, particularly, young girls in Jamaican society today. (more…)

“Xaymaca: Nature and the Landscape in Jamaican Art” Exhibition to Open at National Gallery West on May 8

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National Gallery West, the National Gallery of Jamaica’s new branch at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Sam Sharpe Square, is pleased to present its new exhibition, Xaymaca: Nature and the Landscape in Jamaican Art, which is scheduled to open to the public on Friday, May 8.

Taking the Taino name for the island of Jamaica, which translates as “land of wood and water,” as its point of departure, the Xaymaca exhibition celebrates the spectacular natural beauty of Jamaica, seen through the eyes of Jamaican and visiting artists from the colonial period to the present, but also acknowledges how nature and the land carry the baggage of history and contemporary politics. The exhibition features major works from the National Gallery of Jamaica collection and comprises four sections: plantation era art, with paintings and prints by George Robertson, J.B. Kidd, James Hakewill and John Eaves; early and twentieth photography by A. Duperly and Sons, Herbert Hood-Daniel and Robin Farquharson; paintings and one sculpture from the nationalist school of the mid-twentieth century by Edna Manley, Albert Huie and Ralph Campbell; and paintings and sculpture from the post-Independence generation, by Barrington Watson, Eugene Hyde, Colin Garland, Michael Lester, Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds, Everald Brown, Hope Brooks and Laura Facey. The exhibition was curated by Dr Veerle Poupeye, Executive Director of the National Gallery, and O’Neil Lawrence, Senior Curator, and is funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund.

Members of the public are cordially invited to the opening function of Xaymaca: Nature and the Landscape in Jamaican Art which takes place on Friday, May 8 at 7 pm. The exhibition will be on view at National Gallery West until August 8, 2015. An illustrated catalogue of the exhibition will be available for sale.