One of the highlights of this year's Kingston on the Edge 2010 festival was an all too brief exhibition of drawings by the late artist Karl Parboosingh shown at the Bolivar in Kingston. Mounted by curator Claudia Hucke and very competently documented in its accompanying catalogue, the show presented a selection of Parboosingh's drawings taken from a sketchbook that he carried while he traveled through Europe and New York during the fifties. Fortunately, we were able to collaborate on a conference video that documents the life of Parboosingh as well as the vast range of material in the exhibition. Watch the video
Leonard Daley’s mural like outpourings have all the power of Dubuffet’s Art Brut, or the Surrealist imagery of Andre mason, yet with none of the self-conscious denial employed by these modern artists. In 1987 when Daley’s work was included in the ‘Fifteen Intuitives’ exhibition, David Boxer could still write with honesty that Leonard Daley had no concept of his work as being art, in the sense of a commodity. He painted on fragments of used tarpaulin and plywood, often utilizing both sides of these surfaces and had no desire to title his work. Today, a realism tinged with sadness is sensed in the fact that Daley now conforms to more formal methods of presentation, using more durable and readily exhibited materials, suggesting that even with the sensitive ‘protection’ of the National Gallery of Jamaica, this intuitive is far more aware than he used to be.
Recently we paid a visit to Jamaica Inn and Laura Facey's latest display of hard wood drawings called Solandra. We call them drawings because despite their three dimensions and stature, these pieces are effectively working drawings beautifully but spontaneously rendered in mahogany.
The freshness of their lines and crude finish are something of a departure for Laura known for her perfectionism and polish. Instead floral sketches burst with untamed energy and lines that unravel, drip and scar their surfaces. Placed around the hotel's indoor outdoor dining area they find a space within which to breath and blossom.
Although, these pieces are sufficient unto themselves, there is still a sense of continuity with works from past exhibitions such as Laura's Everything Doors Series, and a hint of springtime and new beginnings.
Ras Dizzy is vocal against the injustices he meets within Jamaican society. A temperamental artist, he will 'curse you' as readily as he will tutor you in his reading from the Bible. His uneven temperament is reflected in his painting but, in his lucid moments, he paints powerfully and lyrically, with deep insight into the history of Jamaica and its people. Also a poet and a write, his titles are often enigmatic and he is not averse to writing within his paintings. Favourite themes are cowboys, that hark back to the era of the 'western movie', popular in Jamaica during the 1960s and still a prevalent theme within dance hall culture, and which recall his own experiences/fantasies(?) of being a jockey at Caymanas Race Track and other race courses throughout the Caribbean, doctor birds (Jamaica's national bird) and local flora (probably a response to tourist demands), spiritual messages, wherein he sees himself as a saviour of the Jamaican people, and images of slavery and Jamaican history.
Too little has been said about the blockbuster movie I Am Legend (2007) and its relationship to Jamaican rastafari musician Bob Marley. But the conjunction of Will Smith playing the last man on earth and that late great reggae singer is curious, especially since a posthumous CD and best selling reggae album of all time also carried the title Legend (1984). Perhaps the connection may have been missed by a generation who have moved on to other celebrities, but the soundtrack evidenced clear indebtedness to the singer and black culture. So here's a clip from the movie and a reminder from Will Smith playing virologist Richard Neville.
Ebony G. Patterson was in Kingston last week for the opening of her exhibition Gangstas, Disciplez + the Doiley Boyz at the CAGe. Diaspora Dialogs went to preview her show and to interview her about her continued interest in Jamaican dance hall culture. Her interview is great material for teaching about what's new in contemporary Caribbean art. She's articulate, inspiring and enthusiastic.
Ebony's images imaginatively recreate portraits of young black males who bleach their skin, pluck their eyebrows and wear 'bling' jewellery to enhance their gangsta status. Ebony finds beauty in their psychic violence glamourizing them with glittered halos and luscious lipstick.
This is 'pulp fiction for Jamaica's dance hall. Check out the Ebony G. Patterson interview!