Jonathan Fryer

Jamaican Men

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 19th June, 2012

For an exhibition entitled ‘Jamaican Men’, there are an awful lot of naked women in the show that opened at the 12 Star Gallery at Europe House in Smith Square, Westminster, this evening. But the title refers to the artists, not the subjects, and Jamaica is a famously macho country. Its music (think reggae, think Bob Marley) and its sport (think Usain Bolt) have given the Caribbean island a renown that belies its small size, but its Art is less well known. So the assiduous collector and promoter of all things Jamaican, Theresa Roberts — who divides her time between Britain and Jamaica — is to be congratulated for loaning for display a selection of her own collection.Lest anyone think her sexist, she also supported an exhibition of Jamaican women artists in Cambridge recently. Inevitably, given the large number of painters and sculptors represented, there is a wide spectrum of styles. Being rather conservative in my tastes where pictures are concerned, I naturally found Ken Abendana Spencer’s ‘Maggoty – St Elizabeth’, with its tranquil tropical village green and neat little figures dressed in white, particularly appealing. Carl Abrahams’ ‘Schoolgirls with Prophet’ is both enchanting and mysterious, not least because the skull-capped prophet is staring not at the young, smiling girls in their canary yellow uniform but out into the distance behind their backs and beyond the right hand side of the frame. Among the sculptors on show, there is also an extraordinary variety of moods and modes: Gene Pearson’s bronze ‘Mother’ is distinctly African in heritage, whereasRaymond Watson’s dynamic bronze maquette ‘First Child’ could easily pass as European.

 The exhibition runs until 29 June.

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2 Responses to “Jamaican Men”

  1. Mary Reid said

    I’ve been to the National Gallery of Jamaica a couple of times – it’s a gem and well worth a visit if you are over there – and they gave a lot of prominence to the painter Barrington Watson. I see he wasn;t included in the exhibition you saw, which was presumably showcasing the younger generation.

    I thought some of Barrington Watson’s paintings were rather sentimental but there were also some very powerful ones as well. I particularly liked a painting called The Conversation, which doesn’t have much impact on the web, because it is actually life size.

  2. Theresa Roberts said

    Mary ,thanks for the comment.
    I agree that Barrington Watson is one of the best
    artists in Jamaica.Although not mentioned in the article one of his paintings is featured in the show along with pieces by his two sons and his grandson.

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