Friday, 13 March 2015

ARTFULLY DONE: "Into the Sun" exhibition showcases Edna Manley's rich and storied artistic legacy

GALLERY GIRLS: Glynn Manley (right) and Betsy Sharp were among the high-society doyennes who attended the opening. Below, Negro Aroused and Worship, both featured in the show.

Anticipation was so rife for the new Edna Manley exhibition, "Into the Sun," being housed at the college's tony CAG(e) gallery, that on opening night one curious guest was overheard asking if Horse of the Night was among the pieces on view. The answer is yes. And, in addition to dozens of other Manley masterpieces, the 1944 watercolour creation (on loan from the Onyx Collection) will adorn the gallery's walls and creative space throughout the exhibition's entire run, culminating this weekend.

Featuring prized selected works from private collections spanning Jamaica's glamorous art world, Into the Sun is a glowing (and indeed wide-ranging) testament to the genius of the celebrated artist who pushed the boundaries in creating works that are significant, profoundly meaningful and arresting in their visual splendour.

It's a retrospective show in homage to the woman rightly called the Mother of Jamaican Art and the paintings and sculptures on showcase engage with the concepts and sociopolitical ideologies that had always mattered deeply to her. Highlights include the third version of 1982's bronze magna opus Negro Aroused (from the Wallace Campbell Collection), 1988's Worship (from the Muriel Lowe Collection) and 1977's startling Study for Jamaica, a wall piece with charcoal details. 

Dr. David Boxer, who was friends with the artist at her peak, and Dr. Petrina Dacres, head of the college's art history department, are the curators of the exhibition. "We really wanted to show the breadth of the work, her intimate side, as well as her relationship with Norman," explains Dacres, whose PhD studies involved research on Manley's Paul Bogle and Negro Aroused. "So I think the exhibition, in a way, demonstrates her evolution as an artist but also the evolution of her relationship with her husband and his political awakening."

The exquisitely crafted art show coincided with the 2015 Edna Manley Memorial Lecture, which observed the theme "The Politics of Edna Manley: A Preliminary Appraisal," and was presented by UWI's Prof. Brian Meeks.

> THIS WOMAN'S WORK:  Meeks recalls Manley as political influencer, revolutionary artist

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