Exhibitions

“I Shall Return Again” opens September 9

NGJWest-Emailer-invite (2)

National Gallery West, the Montego Bay branch of the National Gallery of Jamaica, is pleased to present its latest exhibition: I Shall Return Again. This exhibition explores the work of five young Jamaican artists who have been making an impact on the local and international art scene, who all hail from Western Jamaica. It will open on Sunday, September 9, 2018 at 4 pm, with opening remarks by the exhibition’s curator O’Neil Lawrence.

Inspired by the Claude McKay poem, I Shall Return, which eloquently embodies the creative impulse being influenced by a separation from home and the almost overwhelming longing to return. This exhibition looks at the ways in which these artists work has been influenced by their experiences of “home” and also their time spent living, working and creating away from the distinctive culture of the tourist-centric North and North-West Coast of Jamaica.

Poignant and at times provocative, the dominant themes in this exhibition are the disenchantment of millennial Jamaicans, postcolonial identities viewed through the lens of tourism, gender, sexuality and violence as well as the tensions between the sacred and the subculture of Dancehall. In many ways the creative output of this generation of Western Jamaican artist contemporises the artistic deconstruction of the often celebrated Jamaican stereotypes and reveal more nuanced and multifaceted perspectives on the Jamaican experience.

I Shall Return Again features many new and recent paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography and film by the following artists: Monique Gilpin, Leasho Johnson, Nile Saulter, Storm Saulter and Cosmo Whyte.

The September 9 opening reception for I Shall Return Again at National Gallery West is free and open to the public and all are cordially invited to attend. The exhibition will continue until November 2018. National Gallery West is located at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Sam Sharpe Square. Opening hours are: Tuesdays to Sundays, from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission fees apply on regular days.

 

The Art of Jamaican Sculpture opens on March 18

TAJS - Invite (2)

National Gallery West, the Montego Bay branch of the National Gallery of Jamaica, is pleased to present its latest exhibition: The Art of Jamaican Sculpture. This exhibition explores the rich tradition of Jamaican sculpture in the 20th and 21st Centuries. It will open on Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 4 pm, with opening remarks by the exhibition’s curator O’Neil Lawrence.

Sculptural traditions in Jamaica date back as far as the Taino period, but the modern expressions in the island coincide with the emergence of the nationalist movements – particularly since the late 1930s – with its push towards social and political self-actualization. The art that was produced during this period became a critical component of the Jamaican artistic movement; Edna Manley’s 1935 work Negro Aroused for example became a symbol of the burgeoning Trade Union movement. While Jamaican identity continued to be a hallmark of sculptural work produced well into the post-independence era, the exhibition also contains work by artists who arguably operated outside of the concerns of the nationalist movements. These artists produced work that was either more introspective or focused on issues of spirituality, and there was also increased exploration into the genres of abstraction and surrealism.

The works in this exhibition are primarily from the holdings of the National Gallery of Jamaica and are supplemented with generous loans from collectors in Kingston and Montego Bay. The Art of Jamaican Sculpture features critically acclaimed work by the following artists, Lawrence Edwards, Laura Facey, Christopher Gonzales, Fitz Harrack, Roy Lawrence, Edna Manley, Ronald Moody, Alvin Marriott, David Miller Snr, David Miller Jnr, Winston Patrick, Mallica ‘Kapo’ Reynolds, Namba Roy, Kay Sullivan, Osmond Watson, Ted Williams and John Doc Williamson.

The March 18 opening reception for The Art of Jamaican Sculpture at National Gallery West is free and open to the public and all are cordially invited to attend. The exhibition will continue until July 22, 2018. National Gallery West is located at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Sam Sharpe Square. Opening hours are: Tuesdays to Sundays, from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission fees apply on regular days.

 

 

Spiritual Yards: Selections from the Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection Opens on December 10

Spiritual Yards MoBay - Invite-01

National Gallery West in Montego Bay is pleased to present Spiritual Yards, which features selected works of art and archival material from the Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection. The exhibition opens on Sunday, December 10, 2017, at 4 pm, with opening remarks by Wayne Cox. Spiritual Yards was originally shown at the National Gallery of Jamaica in Kingston and the exhibition at National Gallery West is an abridged version of the original.

Spiritual Yards explores how many of the self-taught, popular artists – or “Intuitives,” as they are now conventionally called in Jamaica – have their roots in religious and spiritual practices such as Revival and Rastafari. Several of these artists have produced or contributed to so-called “spiritual yards,” or sacred spaces that feature ritual and symbolic objects and images that are meant engage or represent the spirits, which was either the start of their artistic practice or remained as its main focus. As Wayne Cox has rightly argued, these spiritual yards are often their most outstanding works of art and their cultural significance in the Jamaican context warrants further exploration. Spiritual Yards features the work of ten such artists, namely Errol Lloyd “Powah” Atherton, Vincent Atherton, Everald Brown, Pastor Winston Brown, Leonard Daley, Reginald English, Elijah (Geneva Mais Jarrett), William “Woody” Joseph, Errol McKenzie, and Sylvester Stephens, along with photographs and video material on their life, work and spiritual yards from the Wayne and Myrene Cox archives.

 

Wayne Cox and his wife Myrene have collected and documented the work of Jamaica’s Intuitives for 30 years. Their homes in Port Maria and in Royal Palm Beach, Florida, serve as important repositories of the work of these artists. Works of the Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection have been widely exhibited internationally and in Jamaica. Wayne has written exhibition catalogue essays for a number of exhibitions, including Intuitives III at the National Gallery of Jamaica. He has presented at symposiums including Taking the Road Less Traveled: Built Environments of Vernacular Artists at the Kohler Art Center and Uncommon Visions at the American Folk Art Museum in the United States. In 2005, Art and Antiques named the Coxes to their list of the “Top 100 Art Collectors in the United States.” The Spiritual Yards exhibition was suggested to the National Gallery by Wayne Cox, who co-curated the exhibition with the National Gallery Executive Director Veerle Poupeye and Senior Curator O’Neil Lawrence.

The December 10 exhibition opening reception for Spiritual Yards at National Gallery West is free and open to the public and all are cordially invited to attend. The exhibition will continue until February 25, 2018. National Gallery West is the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Montego Bay branch and is located at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Sam Sharpe Square. Opening hours are: Tuesdays to Sundays, from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission fees apply on regular days.

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.

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

marcia-biggs-invitation-3-5x8-01

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.

Michael Lester: A Montego Bay Artist Opens on July 24

Michael Lester Invitation 3.5x8-01
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.
Michael Lester 1

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.

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

  • e

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…)