Tag Archives: Jamaica

The Turning Point in Jamaican Art

 

Albert Huie - the counting lesson - 1938

‘The Counting  Lesson’ (1938), oil painting by Albert Huie

The representation of blacks as subjects in Jamaican art remained almost absent until Albert Huie (1920-2010) entered the art scene. Huie was artistically formed in an era where Ethiopianism, Rastafarianism, Garveyism, and cultural nationalism transformed the island’s social and political landscape. He incorporated the collective ideas of these movements about a black African consciousness and a black Jamaican culture in his works.


By Jorge Cuartas

In early Jamaican art, black inhabitants played a marginal role; they were portrayed as part of the scenery. This image was replaced in the late nineteenth century by the ‘market woman’, a stereotype introduced on postcards, photographs and advertisements as part of the first efforts to promote Jamaica as a tourist winter resort. Although represented in the foreground, the market woman is characterized as primitive, backward, childlike, barefooted, picturesque, tropical, and full of queer superstitions.

Albert Huie’s The Counting Lesson (1938) represents an important turning point in Jamaican art. In it a black young girl is the central point. The girl, looking intently at what is in front of her, is counting. She wears a polka dot dress, her hair is neatly coifed with a red bow, and the finger poised in midair stresses her mental calculations. All elements of the painting point to the girl’s education, respectability, and civility.

On its surface the work is fairly unremarkable. However, in the Jamaican context of the 1930s, the painting changes the focus of black people as subjects in art. No longer are they part of the scenery, or used to emphasize stereotypes, but now they are the central focus of the painting. By fitting the girl into the frame of art, Huie allowed black viewers to attribute to themselves the signs of distinction, prestige, and self-hood formerly reserved for the white colonial elite.

Today, Albert Huie is locally and internationally acclaimed as a key figure in Jamaican art and remembered as ‘The Father of Jamaican painting’, but in many ways it is ‘The Counting Lesson’ that set him apart from others. The painting can be seen at National Gallery of Jamaica, where it is on permanent display.

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A Mixture of Africa and Europe

Jamaican born and USA stationed Michael Escoffery was voted one of the ‘100 Most Influential Caribbean Americans’ in 2012 , but when it comes to his art he remains humble. “It’s not good for an artist to speak too much about his work”, says Escoffery. “Let the work speak  for the artist.”

His parents introduced him to painting at a very young age, prompting Escoffery to say: “I have always been an artist, conceived by artists and born an artist”. He was formed in that typical Caribbean mixture of Africa and Europe, an influence that is still visible in his work, where he merges his cultural heritage with modern art.

Michael Escoffery’s style is not easily defined. He combines abstract-realism with expressionism, cubism and iconography. He takes his inspiration from his heritage, the Caribbean people, and from the female form. “A work of art should reveal something new to the viewer each time it is seen”, says Escoffery.

His art has been exhibited in over 200 solo exhibitions and over 300 group shows worldwide. His work has been included in over 100 books worldwide. He is considered outspoken, controversial, but sensitive to his position and responsibilities as an artist. “To be an artist demands great courage.”

Follow series ‘Portraits of Caribbean Women’ on Caribbean Painters: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | YouTube | Tumblr | Google+
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TBT Featured: Impressionist Errol Allen, Jamaica

Errol Allen 2 - Jamaica

Errol Allen (1960-2012) started painting at the age of 8 and is considered one of the main impressionists of Jamaica. His favorite medium was watercolors although he also used pastels, oils and acrylic. Characteristic of his paintings are the colorful pigments applied with heavy brush strokes. His art has been sold to the USA, Canada, England, Germany and Australia. Errol Allen is our featured artist for Throw Back Thursday.

More of his work: Facebook  |  Pinterest  |  Instagram  |  YouTube
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Zoya Taylor’s ‘Sweet Infidel’ wins first prize

Zoya Taylor - The Sweet Infidel

Ten Years of Wide Eyed Emotions

‘Sweet Infidel’ by Jamaica’s Zoya Taylor was selected this week for the first prize Award at the 2015 International Juried Exhibition of The Center for Contemporary Art, New Jersey. In the painting she uses one of her wide eyed characters with skinny bodies which have become her trademark.


By Jorge Cuartas

Zoya Taylor was born in Vancouver, Canada; grew up in Kingston, Jamaica; and now lives in Norway. She is the daughter of a Jamaican father and a Canadian mother. Although she took drawing classes as a child and always had a desire to be an artist, she focused on full-time painting only ten years ago.

“I do not paint portraits but rather the odd and marginal characters which fill the spaces in between. They communicate the different facets of humanity. My cast is the cast of misfits; they are immigrants found between cultures, continents, languages and disciplines” – Zoya Taylor.

Zoya Taylor - Me and my shadow Zoya Taylor - You and me against the world

Zoya Taylor - I said no - Oil on Canvas Zola Taylor - The Reluctant Bridesmaids - Jamaica

That is why her characters have a worldly but innocent look; and that is why they are emotional. In her series, running now for ten years, Zoya Taylor’s characters have been known to feel  it all: anger, shyness, love, insecurity, everything.

Her work has been exhibited in the USA, Norway, Germany, Italy, Spain, England and Jamaica. The exhibition in New Jersey’s Center for Contemporary Art showing her ‘Sweet Infidel’ opens on November 6th 2015 and runs to December 12th 2015.

Paintings used in this article:

  1. ‘Sweet Infidel’, Zoya Taylor, oil on canvas
  2. ‘Me and my Shadow’, Zoya Taylor, oil on canvas
  3. ‘You and me against the World’, Zoya Taylor, oil on canvas
  4. ‘I said No!’, Zoya Taylor, oil on canvas
  5. ‘The reluctant Bridesmaids’, Zoya Taylor, oil on canvas
Links: Zoya Taylor Gallery | Jamaican Painters Pinterest Board  | Caribbean Painters Facebook
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