Underlying greatness

Submitted byJeeraik009 onFri, 07/09/2010 - 14:46

One of the highlights of this year's Kingston on the Edge 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 presents a selection of Parboosingh's drawings taken from a sketchbook that he carried while he traveled through Europe and New York during the fifties. Additionally, there are drawings representing later works such as the preparatory sketches for his Wilton Gardens murals painted in Tivoli Kingston once he returned to Jamaica. Appropriately titled Jazz and Tings, the exhibition provides a fascinating glimpse into Parboosingh's bohemian life amongst avant garde artists that included modernists Fernand Leger and Raoul Dufy, and musicians such as Miles Davis and Charlie Parker; all major influences on Parboosingh. Created very early in his career, these drawings show little of the bold style that would define his later work. Instead, these are simple sketches that reflect Parboosingh's earliest development as an artist as well as his exploration of techniques and styles. Watercolours, line drawings and dense cross hatching reflect his search for a distinctive style. They also reveal the insecurities and weaknesses that he would learn to mask in later paintings.