Wed | Aug 15, 2018

Black history through the artist's eye

Published:Sunday | February 22, 2015 | 12:00 AM
An intuitive work by Ras Dizzy
Photo by Amitabh Sharma Repatriacian by Albert Artwell
Interpretation of life in the street captured by Ras Dizzy
An intuitive piece by Ras Dizzy
A text by Ras Dizzy honouring Marcus Garvey
A creation by Roy Reid at Decor VIII art gallery in Kingston
Intuitives by Roy Reid
Marcus Garvey by Ras Dizzy


"Laundry is the only thing that should be separated by colour." - Unknown, profound words that capture the bitter fact in history, which the annals of time cannot fathom, how fellow human beings could treat the other as commodity.

Humanity has evolved over the centuries, technologically; the world is now a global village, possibly bringing people together much more in first decade of 21st century than the whole of the last century.

February is Black History Month, a bittersweet reminder of events that unfolded in the past, and a celebration of the achievements of individuals who changed the course of time.

The creative thought process has been a key influence in this process - from the spoken word, music, and fine arts - resonated and epitomised.

Some of Jamaica's prolific artists captured their flight of imagination, through intuitive work, the black history.

'Repatriacian' by Albert Artwell epitomises Marcus Garvey and the Black Starliner - the return of black people to their homeland Africa.

"Albert Artwell is a celebrated Jamaican intuitive artist, who embraces the Rastafarian philosophy," said Hyacinth McDonald, gallery owner, Decor VIII art gallery, where this painting is housed.

"His work usually depicts religious scenes, but in this piece ('Repatriacian') has depicted the human desires and aspirations," she added.

Artwell, who is considered a visionary and one of the founders of the intuitive style in Jamaica, started his artistic journey doing calligraphy from scriptures, and transitioned to painting, his style that of using splash of colours.

Perched on a wall, Ras Dizzy's water colour on paper showcases Marcus Garvey, the artist's construal of the Civil Rights Activist. The artist pays a tribute to Garvey in his own words at the back of the painting.

Ras Dizzy, as his name suggests, was a Rastafarian poet, philosopher and painter. His inclusion in a 1979 exhibition at the National Gallery of Jamaica established him as a major intuitive artist. An admirer of Marcus Garvey and his teachings, this piece of work pays tribute to our first national hero.

Also showcased among multitude art are the works of Roy Reid and his intuitive interpretation of the life and people of Jamaica. Reid, whose works may be translated from his upbringing in Portland, as he worked in the fields, playing guitar and building musical instruments and speaker boxes.

"Art allows us to remember all that happened here in Jamaica," said McDonald, "to us as individuals and together as a nation."