Ras Dizzy is vocal against the injustices he meets within Jamaican society. A temperamental artist, he will 'curse you' as readily as he will tutor you in his reading from the Bible. His uneven temperament is reflected in his painting but, in his lucid moments, he paints powerfully and lyrically, with deep insight into the history of Jamaica and its people. Also a poet and a write, his titles are often enigmatic and he is not averse to writing within his paintings. Favourite themes are cowboys, that hark back to the era of the 'western movie', popular in Jamaica duing the 1960s and still a prevalent theme within dance hall culture, and which recall his own expereincesfantasies(?) of being a jockey at Caymanas race track and other race courses throughout the Caribbean, doctor birds (Jamaica's national bird) and local flora (probably a response to tourist demands), spiritual messages, wherin he sees himself as a saviour of the Jamaican people, and images of slavery and Jamaican history.
In an era when pottery was still regarded as a lesser art form Cecil Baugh was a pioneer in educating Jamaican art lovers and gaining their respect for its fine art status. Cecil Baugh first developed an interest in clay making and ceramics as a young man living in Kingston. His first contact came through the Trenchfield sisters who lived in his Mountain View community. Originally from St Elizabeth, the sister made 'yabbas' in the traditional African way, and Baugh who had never seen these techniques in his home parish of Portland, became fascinated. He also recognized that making pots was a lucrative business, especially in the days before refrigeration when 'yabbas' were used for cool storage. Along with a fellow potter Wilfred Lord he established the Cornwall Works in Montego Bay, but later transferred to St Ann and then back to Kingston. Always innovative, Baugh worked to develop his techniques in pot making, experimenting with glazes and learning the intricacies of kiln firing to perfect his skills. Increasingly he moved further from the African tradition towards Western and Asian styles achieving his own distinctive coloured glazes.
Born in Scotland, Valerie Bloomfield studied in Glasgow and moved to Jamaica as a young artist. She began to exhibit regularly in group exhibitions and quickly established a name for herself because of her unerring sense of realism and ability to capture likeness. During the 1970s she became one of Jamaica's most sought after portrait painters, particularly amongst Jamaica's upper class elites. But her work was most endearing when she was painting artists and friends such as Barrington Watson, Kofi Kayiga and John Maxwell. These works have become important historical records of that artistic milieu.Despite her academic training, Bloomfield's work was never traditional. Rather, she brought a sense of energy and verve to her work that gave it a sense of modernity appropriate to the that era. In addition, her use of colour, particularly her capturing of light in pastel shades gave her work a characteristic sense of caribbeaness.Above all else, Bloomfield was an inspiring teacher, motivating a generation of young women whom she taught at Wolmer's Girls School to pursue art as a profession rather than a pastime. As a result, her work and evidence of her work can be found in numerous public and private collections in Jamaica. Bloomfield currently lives and works in Florida, USA, but occasionally exhibits in Jamaica.
As an influential artist as well as the Chief Curator (Director Emeritus) of the National Gallery of Jamaica, David Boxer has had a significant impact on Jamaica's art and its artists. He has consciously steered Jamaican art in new directions.
Boxer studied at medical school in the US, later switching to complete his doctorate in art history. He has had no formal art training. Nevertheless, his artistic vocabulary is sophisticated, stemming from an interest in artists such as Francis Bacon, Joseph Cornell and Joseph Beuys. He now works increasingly in series and was one of the first Jamaican artists to move
Eric Cadien attended the 'art school' during the dynamic seventies when self- reliance and self-determination became the political watch-words that guided Jamaica beyond independence towards self-government and Democratic Socialism. At the Jamaica School of Art Jerry Craig and Hope Brooks taught him, but his earliest influences in terms of style and technical development came from artists such as Winston Patrick and Osmond Watson and Kofi Kayiga.
He was initially trained as a sculptor but after returning from post-graduate studies in Canada he began to create paintings that with bold colour, clearly defined forms and self-conscious use of spatial relationships. He brought a fresh approach to Jamaican composition.Cadien's work was informed by expressionist artists of a slightly older generation like Karl Parboosingh and Eugene Hyde and Kofi Kayiga. He fostered their interest in abstraction and combined it with iconography then current in Rastafarian circles. The result was imagery that paid homage to European modern art but was more deeply rooted in black nationalism.
In the last years of his life he reveled in the 2D surface, his work became more representational and the figure as nude, musician, kings and queens, created a pantheon of images rooted African and Jamaican symbolism. His work would set a precedent for those students he later tutored in experimental painting and sculpture at the Jamaica School of Art such as Omari Ra/Robert Cookhorne, Kalfani Ra/Douglas Wallace, and Stanford Watson. Cadien was too young to completely identify with the concerns of Jamaica's earliest abstract painters, neither was he a part of that later group of Expressionist painters of the eighties labelled 'new imagists'. The arrested development of his oeuvre due to his untimely death has allowed others to view him as an artist who bridged the two movements in the development Jamaica's modern art. But, Cadien's own thoughts about creativity and his paintings exhibited just prior to his death suggest that his work was still in transition and not limited to any school or style. He wrote: 'A consistent artist is a thoughtless one, because he conforms to a style; he repeats himself and thinks in a groove. The artist must always try to understand himself, and understanding cannot come through conformity, but through self -knowledge which is always new.'
The development of Ralph Campbell's career as a painter parallels similar developments in Jamaica's modern art history. It is not surprising that his maturation as a painter mirrors the same process of maturation in Jamaica's cultural institutions, since a great deal of his artistic achievements were due to their foundation. In his lifetime as an artist he experienced the birth of Jamaican art as well as its rise to public acclaim.
Initially attending the informal Saturday morning classes at the Institute of Jamaica, Campbell was one of the first students to benefit from the establishment of formal art classes at the DaCosta Institute and its outgrowth, the Jamaica School of Art and Crafts, In his earliest years he was taught sculptural modeling by Edna Manley, but painting was his strength. In time he would return to his alma mater as a painting tutor, making his own contribution to institutional development.
But Campbell's education was not confined to Jamaica, in the 1950's he was a beneficiary of a British Council scholarship and studied at Goldsmiths in London, later he would also study in Chicago. Throughout his career, his skills as a painter became more confident as was exposed to formal tuition and other artistic influences. This transition can be seen in his painting.
Campbell was always a representational painter, but his style was highly expressive. His paintings were always fresh and spontaneous, even after being exposed to art movements abroad, Unlike his contemporaries, Huie, Escoffery and Alexander Cooper he shunned style and painted with freedom and an awkward relationship to proportion and perspective. But one senses that his disregard of formal principles is willful rather than negligent. Whether painting nudes, or landscapes, he was a painter of bold gestures and expression suggestive of the French painter Cezanne before the advent of Impressionism. His work reflected the energy and vitality of his robust personality.
In terms of content, he was a true 'son of the soil' focusing on themes that demonstrated his strong sense of nationalism. He was a true genre painter documenting scenes around him that reflected his commitment to an independent Jamaica.
Campbell died in 1985, his work is considered highly collectable and can be found in many local and international private collections.