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John Dunkley

Solo show at National Gallery of Jamaica. 1976 - 1977
Date: 9 December, 1976 until 19 February, 1977
Curator: Dr David Boxer
Organiser: National Gallery of Jamaica

Hugely important exhibition of work by early Jamaican Intuitive, John Dunkley, that took place at the National Gallery of Jamaica, when it was located at previous premises - 26 Hope Road, kingston 10. 

Dunkley left a relatively small number of paintings (apparently fewer than 50) spanning little more than a decade, mostly imagined landscapes full of hidden symbolism, others depictions of street scenes or activities he observed or copied in his paintings, all esonating with Dunkley’s trademark surrealist renderings of vegetation and humanity. After a memorial exhibition in 1947 and a joint Dunkley/ (Henry) Daley exhibition in 1960 - both at the Institute of Jamaica - Dunkley was virtually a forgotten artist, but is now a well-regarded figure in the history of Jamaican art. This exhibition was an important part of Dunkley’s posthumous embrace as an important figure. The catalogue’s preface was written by the Gallery’s Director David Boxer, embellished by a variety of texts by individuals such as SirPhilip Sherlock, Cassie Fraser Dunkley, Edna and Norman Manley.

From David Boxer’s Preface the 1977 National Gallery of Jamaica catalogue: “I could say that these are paintings which would have been a special delight to the Surrealists had they known of them, but we are not all amateur freudians searching for the dark secrets that spawn the unique creativity of an artist like Dunkley. And to speak at length of his obvious phallic consciousness and his obvious preoccupation with that linkage of eroticism and death, that basic instinctual dualism, the Eros/Thantos conflict which Freud defined (“the ultimate explanation of the human neurosis”) may perhaps be a barrier to those who would delight instead in the delicacy of the paintings’ tapestry-like surfaces and in the highly sophisticated spatial organization of the works.”


Related items

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Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1977

People in this exhibition

»  John Dunkley

Born, 1886 - 1896 (probably 1891) in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, Jamaica. Died, 1947

Exhibition venues

»  National Gallery of Jamaica

Kingston, Jamaica