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Barrington's 'Shock Attack'
published: Sunday | March 18, 2007

Anthea McGibbon, Gleaner Writer

In Barrington Watson's 'High Five', a very short Malcolm Marshall reaches up to do a high five with the tall Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose. -PHOTO by COLIN HAMILTON

Barrington Watson is a phenomenon among the Jamaican painting masters still alive today. For most Jamaicans, his exact explorations with the human anatomy have been indelible, and equally memorable are the electrifying emotions that exude, as you become spellbound by his strokes.

Recently, the National Gallery launched a 'Shock Attack' to honour Barrington, and took viewers beyond the boundary into active play of cricket ? at least visually.

Fifteen pieces ? drawings, wash and paintings ? triggered memories of the early glory days of West Indies cricket from the '60s to '80s.

first mark on society

Barrington's first mark on society was as a soccer player for his old school, Kingston College, but the keen artist, who plays very little cricket, has for years visually translated his passion for the game's 'movement, colour and subtleties'.

The astute writer and painter, who was born in Lucea, Hanover, has long surpassed his garnered formal art training in England, becoming a master himself ? teaching by example and interaction, and compelling universal respect.

For this reason, approximately 100 persons from society's varied strata turned out for the 'Shock Attack' launch, where most hung pieces were on loan from collectors.

The collective works are energetic, rhythmic, yet fanciful as Barrington flatters the elegance of the game and it's participants in his accurate representation of character and personalities. The strength of the collection is the captured subtleties of the game such as left handers, and Lara's hand-eye coordination.

With his liberal lines he commands action, and the medium application of paint fused by high colour quality allows him to promote player confidence, festive moods, seemingly energised by the pelting sun. This is prominent in 'High Five', 'Bouncer' and the 'Through the Slip' series, and 'Square Cut'.

'Shock Attack 3', is a poster of performance as the moment of friction when the ball is driven away by the batsman's bat is represented by three circular bands of colour as if slowing the motion for the viewer to fully comprehend. In 'Hook' and 'Study for the Hook', the swing of the bat is again strategically illustrated by semicircular bands of colour, but yellow and orange, adding balance in design and complementing the already captured action.

The actual piece 'Shock Attack' depicts West Indies cricketers closely together in slip chord position. Six men stoop in anticipation of a catch. The painting reminisces on the early historic West Indies fast bowler quartet that shocked the world, specifically the opposing batsmen with their extreme pace. The 'Shock Attack' was one of the main tools the WI team used to dominate cricket then, as four West Indies pacers played at given time. At the show, unlike the pen and ink and wash studies, the 'Study for Shock Attack' is done in oil.

'Shock Attack' is only a whetting of the collector's palette as a visit to Gallery Barrington leaves more than lingering fulfilment of the techniques and styles of the Barrington Watson movement. An ideal model of gallery activity, there is inspiration to be all you can be as you are immersed in a relaxing challenge from the spell of works excellently presented. Whether you paint, critique, or buy, you know you have been in the master's house.

How does the master feel about being honoured? At the launch, he was openly very appreciative but more thankful to those who supported him unrelentingly.

The show ends April 31.

Anthea McGibbon, a graduate of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts has more than 10 years experience in the fields of journalism and the arts. Contact her at or

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