Thu | Jul 20, 2017

Lennox Coke: Art is an investment

Published:Sunday | March 29, 2015 | 3:00 AMKeisha Hill
‘Market Fest’.
‘Hands of Music 1#’.
‘Ancestral Memory’.
'Celebrating Ja 50' by Lennox Coke.
‘Fatal Comforts’.
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It has always been difficult for artists to market their work and support their creative development individually. Resources are generally too limited to permit paying for experienced agents to negotiate business for them, or to permit adequate expenditure on promoting themselves.

However, according to experienced artist Lennox Coke, Jamaican art will prove to be an investment that will stand the test of time, increase in value and remain strong for years to come. The development of the industry, he said, is further strengthened by the courageous and often difficult determination of many professional artists to export their art and create for themselves and, by extension, Jamaica, an international market share.

benefit of investing

"Original art is an important part of the image of any company and has also been recognised to be a beneficial aspect of a motivating working environment," Coke said.

"The benefit of investing in Jamaican art is not only sound financial investment, but would enhance the viability of the creative sector of the Jamaican economy, thereby facilitating a potential growth in its own customer base. Collections that are documented and regularly publicised will create an avalanche of new collectors and further enhance the viability of the sector," Coke added.

The artist whose offerings portray a deep commitment of Jamaican culture and lifestyle said an original collection is a financial asset that can only grow. "Work by most local artists is affordable with a proven track record for growth, and most have demonstrated a significant commitment to their art career, and in other words they have proven their worth," he said.

Coke has depicted the traditional Jamaican market scenes on numerous occasions in his work because of his first-hand knowledge of agricultural life and practices, having grown up in the Breadbasket Parish of St Elizabeth. "The physical beauty of Jamaica and the persevering efforts of Jamaicans stimulate me to capture some of the essence of this fascinating island. Like most other visual artists, I intend to continue trying to portray the varied aspects of this island," he said.

Achievements

Over the years, his work has appeared in many national exhibitions, including the highly competitive Jamaica Cultural Development Commission exhibition, where he has garnered many coveted medals, to include one gold medal, two silver medals, five bronze medals and five merit awards. His paintings can also be found in the Bank of Jamaica Collection, as well as those of prominent local families and as far away as Australia.

"My work is a portrayal of my outlook in life and I see my work as a medium of expressing myself visually. Painting has been my passion over the years and it is a journey that is ongoing," Coke said.

Despite the economic downturn, the support of patrons over the years has motivated this artist to greater heights. His art involves mostly realistic depictions of Jamaican life but occasionally he delves deeper to present pieces that are more surrealistic.

"Jamaicans need to invest in their culture. Jamaicans do not realise the importance of the visual arts, but it is critical to the development of the country. I will continue to play my part to seeing that this recognition happens," Coke said.

He has participated in several exhibitions in Jamaica since graduating from the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. His first solo exhibition was at Gallery M.E.K. at Devon House in 1997. He has also participated in overseas shows in Trinidad and Tobago, Washington, DC, and New York City, among others.

Coke is also a frequent

participant in several annual shows: Caribbean Gift and Craft, Liguanea Lodge Auction, Mandeville Art Fair and Liguanea Art Festival. He has also had the distinction of providing the cover image for the book The Embodiment of Disobedience: Fat Black Women's Unruly Political Bodies by Andrea Elizabeth Shaw, assistant professor of English at Nova Southeastern University, published in 2006.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com