2010: Big losses for art community

Published: Sunday | December 19, 2010 Comments 0
Albert Huie.
Albert Huie.
'Plastic Instinct' by Dawn Scott.
'Plastic Instinct' by Dawn Scott.
Seya Parboosingh,
Seya Parboosingh,
The painting titled 'Portrait of Edna Manley', by artist Albert Huie. - Kyle Macpherson/ Freelance Photographer
The painting titled 'Portrait of Edna Manley', by artist Albert Huie. - Kyle Macpherson/ Freelance Photographer

Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

Local galleries flew flags at half mast this year to mourn the passing of three Jamaican painters - Albert Huie, Seya Parboosingh and Dawn Scott - all of whom contributed to the golden age of the country's art.

Huie died on January 31 at age 89 in Baltimore, Maryland. Parboosingh, an American of Lebanese origin, passed away August 12. She was 89.

Scott, who had a distinguished career as an artist and designer, died on September 21 at age 59.

The Falmouth-born Huie is regarded by many art buffs as the 'father of Jamaican art'. His career started in the late 1930s when he did paintings for small haberdasheries in downtown Kingston.

His reputation grew in the 1940s when his work caught the attention of Edna Manley, the respected sculptor whose husband was well-known lawyer and politician Norman Manley.

David Boxer, curator of the National Gallery of Jamaica, believes Huie did some of his strongest work during that period.

"He did some consummate paintings at that stage. Huie was a realist, he had a sort of post-impressionist style and had a studied involvement in Jamaican matters," Boxer said.

'Portrait of Edna Manley' and 'Miss Mahogany' were just two of the gems from Huie's vast catalogue. He was also a founder of the Jamaica School of Arts and Crafts (later the Jamaica School of Art) in 1950.

Seya (born Samila Joseph in Pennsylvania) was married to Karl Parboosingh, the massively influential Jamaican painter who died in 1975. She came to Jamaica in the late 1950s after they married.

Boxer said Seya came into her own after her husband's death and established herself as an intuitive painter in the mould of Frenchman Edouard Manet, her greatest influence.

"For some time she painted in the shadow of her husband who was a superb artist and larger-than-life personality," Boxer explained. "Seya really made her mark based on abstract/impressionist ideas. I think one of her greatest pieces was 'In Prayer', which was a tribute to Parboosingh."

Manchester-born, Scott's career took different paths. She started out as a painter in the early 1970s, posting her first exhibition at the United States Information Service.

She excelled in batik, an exotic form of textile dyeing popular in Asia. It was the focus of 'Nature Vive', her last solo exhibition which took place in 1995 at Grosvenor Galleries in St Andrew.

Boxer insists Scott's most impressive showing was 'Six Options: Gallery Spaces Transformed' which opened at the National Gallery in 1985. It was said to be the first exhibition of installation art in Jamaica.

"It's quite possibly the most popular work at the gallery," Boxer said.

Scott branched off into interior design and architectural detailing in the latter half of her artistic career. She was responsible for finishing the Island Village complex in Ocho Rios; her solo work included designing the historic Harmony Hall mansion in Tower Isle, St Mary and the Akbar restaurant in St Andrew.

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