Repossession an exhibition of paintings by Clinton Hutton now showing at the the Philip Sherlock Creative Arts Centre, Mona campus demonstrates that issues related to race and blackness have still not been laid to rest in Jamaica. His are relatively small gems painted in hot colours filled with abstract forms and African symbolism that bring to mind the work of other Caribbean masters such as Leroy Clarke, Aubrey Williams, Frank Bowling and Philip Moore. Yet, for all their vibrancy, these images pay homage to Jamaican and African ancestors who are restless and unrelenting, conveying a narrative about the journey of black people in the past 500 years since slavery that is haunted with memories of the past and that yearns for a more deeply rooted existence within an African cosmology. As artist Leroy Clarke observed in his opening address, they represent a house in trouble and artists like Hutton have a moral responsibility to re-chart the ruins...and reclaim our true identities.
The exhibition will resonate most with viewers of an earlier generation whose sensibilities are rooted in the philosophies of Black Power, Rastafari and race consciousness.
It speaks positively about the legacy of the African Diaspora in our music, dance and spiritual forms but also more poignantly about lost connections and our aberrant contemporary existence. This is understandable because Clinton Hutton is a man of his times, a child of the sixties educated in the turbulant times of Walter Rodney, and the political and cultural upheavals that Rastafari provoked in the 70s and 80s. It is interesting then, that as a lecturer at the University of the West Indies Hutton's exhibition is welcomed by peers who now hold positions of influence within the Academy and the very institution that might have once questioned black consciousness. Perhaps this is the 'repossession' of which Hutton and Clarke speak, in the struggle to achieve self we must continue to make noise; a restive beating that demands to be seen and demands to heard. Photo credit © Knolly Moses 2010