Jamaica gets Kapo's works
Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer
The family of the late Ambassador John Pringle has donated 23 pieces of paintings, which were done by celebrated Jamaican artist Mallica 'Kapo' Reynolds, to the National Gallery of Jamaica.
The handover of the artworks to the National Gallery took place during a function at the Montego Bay Civic Centre yesterday.
'Kapo' Reynolds, who died in 1989, was a Zionist Revival leader who is said to have translated his visions into wood sculptures and paintings throughout the 1940s and 1950s. Among his celebrated works is a painting titled Black Christ by the Sea of Galilee, which was done in 1947.
At the time of his death in 1989, Kapo had gained recognition as one of the leading intuitive artists, rivalled only by Jamaica's great intuitive painter John Dunkley.
Kapo's works were collected by Pringle and kept at his home in London, England, until 2007 when his family elected to donate them to the National Gallery for display to the Jamaican public.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, during his keynote address at the function, said the fine arts genre is one of the key areas for promoting Jamaica as a tourist destination.
"We have an idea where we're putting together what we're calling the genius of our people. And the genius is reflected in our art, our music, our sports, our academia, and our cuisine, as well as in our general iconoclastic approaches to global leadership," Bartlett said.
"Jamaica continues to excite the world with these critical icons who we are putting together in tourism as the genius of our people," he added.
The minister also acknowledged Kapo as one such icon whose artwork, he said, is often described as primitive or intuitive.
"However you want to call it, what it does reflect is the creative expression from the bowel of the people," Bartlett declared.
"And this, to me, is key because people visit us to celebrate those things that are really from the people, and the expression of their art in the form that says their story, and gives their history - where we're coming from, where we're going, and indeed where we are."
The 23 donated art pieces will be kept at the Civic Centre for public viewing until September, at which time they will be transported to Kingston and added to the National Gallery's John Pringle collection.
"I know my father would be honoured and delighted by today's event," Pringle's daughter Shawn Tower declared in an emotional statement.
"My father often expressed a strong wish for the Kapos to be his gift back to Jamaica. Thus, I and the rest of my family are delighted at the assurance we have received that my father's Kapos will be housed in the well-respected and marvellous National Gallery of Jamaica and displayed as the 'John Pringle Collection' for many years to come."
Pringle was Jamaica's first tourism director and founder of the Round Hill Hotel. He died in 2006.