Black is Colour : Colour is Race
In Black as Colour, Dr. David Boxer aptly shows the importance of black to the Jamaican artist's palette. His iconographic perspective brings to the National Gallery an exhibition of enormous scope. This lecture lends to his vision a social context for the artistic use of black. With an art historical view, I hope to unify many of his ideas under the single theme of race. Jamaicans share with others a racialised response to colour inherited from colonialism. Our lives, and particularly our artists, are constantly engaged with the colour and its historical and symbolic significance whether we are asserting, denying, embracing or ignoring it. It is evident in images of black sexuality downstairs, black death in the lobby, black politics in the temporary gallery, or black religion on the mezzanine.(Throne for Justice, Sentinel, Flight from Egypt, Judgement) more
Jamaican art is as diverse as its culture, an electric mix of styles and forms. Yet, the Jamaican artist very rarely strays far from the concerns of the island whether it be landscape, flora and fauna, its people or its political and social concerns. In any gallery postimpressionist works can quite comfortably rub shoulders with expressionism and abstraction and still resonate a vision with which is quintessentially Jamaican.
This passion for the island has been evident throughout its history; the later indigenous Taino Indians carved its Gods (Zemes); later the European colonisers prefered to paint landscapes and images of the plantocracy, and although slavery inhibited the creativity of larger population who were of African decent, by the beginning of the twentieth century ideas of Africa were retained and translated into the sculpture and paintings which focused on Jamaica as home. Since the 1920's Jamaican artists have played significant role in providing images, such as Edna Manley's Negro Aroused 1936, Albert Huie's Noontime 1943, Barrington Watson's Mother and Child 1958 or Christopher Gonzales' Bob Marley 1982 so important to nation building. more
Jamaican Art, A Social History
From colonialism to post modernism, Jamaica's art movement has been integrally linked to events and styles elsewhere so an appraisal of Jamaican art the 20th century to the present provides an understanding of the socio-political history of our own culture as well as that of others. This means it is difficult to speak about Jamaican art without also considering European art and its conventional styles such as Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Cubism, Expressionism. in addition, we need to also acknowledge influences from Africa and the wider black diaspora.