This exhibition is a rare opportunity to see a unique Jamaican branch of contemporary art which was first acknowledged post-independence and which continues to flourish. There are no pretty beach scenes; no ‘tourist’ art. The work is challenging and powerful.
Until Jamaican Independence in 1962, the larger part of Jamaica’s art establishment took only European and North American style art seriously. This was a legacy of colonialism. With Independence, the importance of the arts and of acknowledging and exhibiting Jamaican artists was recognised in helping to shape a national cultural identity.
It was the late Dr David Boxer, Director and Chief Curator of the National Gallery of Jamaica for over 35 years, who coined the word ‘Intuitive’ - now an official art term. He defined the context in which these remarkable artists’ accomplishments should be considered:
‘These artists paint and sculpt intuitively. They are not guided by fashion. Their vision is pure and sincere, untarnished by art theories and philosophies, principles and movements. They are, for the most part self-taught.... Their visions (and many of them are true visionaries) as released through paint or wood, are expressions of their individual relationships with the world around them - and the worlds within.’
All five artists in this show were born and (have) spent their lives in Jamaica. Their work has been part of major exhibitions at the National Gallery of Jamaica, and has been shown across the Caribbean, the US and Europe.
- Christopher Harris was born in 1974. He was one of the fourteen selected exhibitors in the prestigious Young Talent V Competition at the National Gallery of Jamaica in 2010. Encouraged to draw from an early age by his father, a farmer and a portraitist, Christopher’s work connects to his Ashanti forefathers.
- Kingsley Thomas was born in 1941. He worked in Kingston as a journalist for the now closed Jamaica Daily News before moving back home to rural Portland. A number of his lyrical paintings and sculptures refer to stories he covered as a journalist.
- Leonard Daley 1930 - 2006. Partly surreal, partly realist, Daley’s images tap into Jamaica’s collective consciousness and history. In 1999, at the opening of Daley’s one-man show at the University of the West Indies, Dr David Boxer declared him to be ‘one of the truly great natural painters of the century.’ Daley was awarded the prestigious Bronze Musgrave Medal in 2002.
- Evadney Cruickshank, born c1950. Evadney started painting after observing her then partner, the artist Sylvester Woods, at work. Her narrative paintings record daily life in her rural community - Pocomania services (an African-based religion), street dances, clearing up after hurricane damage. Her dry sense of humour infuses her work.
- Birth ‘Ras Dizzy’ Livingstone c1932 - 2008. Ras Dizzy first came to public attention in the 1960s as a Rastafarian poet/philosopher selling his writings on the University of the West Indies campus. A remarkable colourist, he portrayed himself in his paintings as a prize-winning boxer, a judge, a horse race jockey. A poetic insight was written on the reverse of each work.
Opening Party on Sunday 15th October 2-5 pm featuring the Koromanti Mento Band. Mento is Jamaica’s folk music and the precursor to ska and reggae. The High Commissioner, His Excellency Mr Seth George Ramocan, will be guest of honour. Jamaican Intuitives is part of the official Jamaica55 celebrations. (The Gallery will be open on Friday and Saturday, 13th & 14th October as usual.)