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Defining a master and pioneer

  • Title: "Albert Huie - Father of Jamaican Painting"
  • Author: Edward Lucie-Smith
  • Reviewed By: Georgia Hemmings

    AT long last there's a book about Albert Huie, master painter and pioneer among Jamaican artists.

    Albert Huie ­ Father of Jamaican Painting was launched earlier this month, and chronicles the life and work of this respected painter, and his contribution to Jamaica's artistic expression.

    The book, written by author and art critic Edward Lucie-Smith, joins the lists of art publications which came off the press this year, including The Pan-Africanists (Barrington Watson and Dudley Thompson) and Baugh - Master Potter (Laura Tanna).

    It is an excellent tribute to this great Jamaican who rose from humble beginnings to perfect his skills and who has achieved international recognition.

    Resource tool

    The book is also important because it can be viewed as a reference and a resource tool. It is significant that the biographical details are collected while Mr. Huie is still alive to share his memories and experiences, and provide invaluable insights into his craft.

    Mr. Huie, born in Trelawny in 1920, will celebrate his 80th birthday on December 31. Although he resides with his children in the United States, he travels frequently to Jamaica for inspiration for his works and to maintain linkages with his roots.

    These early beginnings ­ his childhood, struggles as a painter, formal education, and gradual development as a painter ­ are recounted in detail by Mr. Lucie-Smith. Also recorded are his involvement in the formation of the Jamaica School of Art and Crafts, which has given rise to the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA).

    Broader view

    But Albert Huie ­ Father of Jamaican Painting goes beyond being just a biography. The author also examines the broad categories of Mr. Huie's paintings within the context of affinities and possible influences on his works, from inside and outside the region.

    So comparisons are made between Mr. Huie's work and French impressionist Camile Pissarro (1830-1903), born in St. Thomas in the Danish Virgin Islands; Mexican landscapists Jose Maria Velasco and Venezuelan artist Armando Reveron. And collectors and scholars will find these comparisons and analyses interesting.

    But the best part of the book are the illustrations. Sixty-nine pages of crisp, colour plate reproductions adorn the publication, capturing and preserving (in a sort of mini-exhibition) the timeless beauty of Mr. Huie's works.

    Many of these pieces are in private and corporate collections here and abroad, and the author thanked those collectors who released their valuable paintings to be photographed.

    The works are arranged in five styles ­ landscapes, scenes, nudes, portraits and flowers. Among the outstanding pieces in the various sections are Huie's First Landscape (of important historical value), The Poinciana Tree, First of April March, Miss Mahogany and The Wonder of Youth.

    There are self-portraits of the artist (done in 1938 and 1976), and paintings of young females and male models. History Lesson is particularly striking in the portraiture section. All these works can be appreciated by the trained artist and art collectors, as well as the untrained who are simply drawn to the beauty of visual arts.

    Closing off his interview with the artist and his wife, the author discusses Mr. Huie's views on being a Jamaican artist, the artist's role and responsibilities to society, and his vision for the future.

    "Huie is a painter of a Jamaica which is now passing away," said Mr. Lucie-Smith.

    And we are fortunate, for, in recording the landscape and the people as he has done, Mr. Huie has allowed Jamaicans to see Jamaica through his eyes for a long time to come.

    Albert Huie - Father of Jamaican Painting, produced by the advanced print technology of Hong Kong, China, is a wonderful addition to the slowly growing database about Jamaican art ­ its history and artists.

    The book was made possible through a generous contribution from the ATL Group of Companies, and Judy Macmillan and Alvin Fong Tom collaborated in its production.

    Publisher: Ian Randle Publishers

  • RISING FROM RURAL JAMAICA

    Albert Huie was born in Falmouth, Trelawny on December 31, 1920. In 1944, assisted by the British Council, Mr. Huie began his formal education at the Ontario College of Art. He left Canada in 1947 on a British Council Scholarship and studied at the Camberwell School of Art in London.

    He returned to Jamaica in 1948 and, in 1950, along with Edna Manley, Cecil Baugh, Lynden Leslie and Jerry Isaacs helped to form the Jamaica School of Art and Crafts. This, at a later date, became the Jamaica School of Art and finally the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.

    Mr. Huie has participated in many exhibitions locally and abroad, and his first solo exhibition at Hills Galleries in Kingston in 1955 was critically acclaimed.

    A major retrospective of his work was mounted by the National Gallery of Jamaica in 1979 and remains to date the most definitive of his career.

    He last exhibited jointly with artist Judy MacMillan in 1994 at the State Theatre Gallery in Kingston, under the auspices of the French Embassy (Alliance Française). The entire exhibition was sold out.

    Mr. Huie currently divides his time between Jamaica and the United States.

  • MAJOR AWARDS

  • 1958 - Silver Musgrave Medal, Institute of Jamaica.

  • 1959 - Spanish Biennial exhibition award, Havana, Cuba.

  • 1962 - Jamaica Government Award.

  • 1968 - Badge of Honour, Jamaica Government

  • 1974 - Gold Musgrave Medal, Institute of Jamaica.

  • 1975 - Order of Distinction, Jamaica National Honour.

  • 1994 - George William Gordon Award for Excellence.

  • 2000 - School of Visual Arts Golden Anniversary award as a founding member.

    Back to Arts &Leisure


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