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National Gallery of Jamaica

The Exhibition Barrington: A Retrospective is presented through a clickable picture gallery in thirteen thematic clusters:

I. The Self-Portrait:
The exhibition begins with a survey of that intriguing genre self-portraiture which has attracted the artist at all stages of his career.

II. History and Nation Building:
History painting is a mainstay of the academic mode and Barrington has painted true history paintings such as the storming of the courthouse during the Morant Bay Rebellion but it is contemporary history, where he captures in epic works and “official” portraiture, the politics of the moment that has generated some of his most vital works. Not least of these is the massive two hundred square foot The Garden Party which is being exhibited along with a group of studies in situ at the Bank of Jamaica.

III. Our African Heritage (annex exhibition at the Olympia Art Centre):
Another type of history painting, where the artist explores our African heritage, is to be found in the massive mural at the Olympia Art Centre, which too has to be seen in situ. The mural and some of its attendant studies will be accompanied by other canvases that explore our links with Africa and by the vast compendium of Pan-Africanist heroes, which includes portraits of our own Marcus Garvey.

IV: Portraiture:
Self Portraiture and historical and political portraiture having been explored in the first three segments of the retrospective, this extensive section explores all the other sub-genres of portraiture which Barrington has attempted. These include his renowned portraits of women and another virtually autonomous genre, the images of Maternité, the “mother and child.” Portraits of men and the admittedly small number of what are technically group portraits, as well as his forays into “types” and “têtes d’expression” are also explored.

V. The Nude:
The Portraiture gallery leads naturally to full figural studies and depictions of the nude. This gallery is devoted to Barrington’s persistent study of the nude female form, with a single notable exception: a painting of five nude boys.

VI. The Erotic Impulse:
This gallery is devoted to what we term here as the erotic impulse where nude studies are elaborated into depictions, and celebrations of sexual encounters with all their sensual delights and some of the traumas that can be associated with sexual relationships.

VII. Genre I: Music, Dance, Religion:
Figural studies in the narrative tradition, or what is generally termed works of genre make up a considerable part of the exhibition. Four of our largest galleries are devoted to these works of genre. In the first we examine works that stem from the artist’s love of music, dance and ritual, and what we might term religious spectacle.

VIII. Genre II: Female Community - Women at Work:
In the second of the genre galleries we examine the communal lives of women as they gather to collect water, to wash in the river, to offer their produce in the marketplace, to chat and gossip and to engage in “kas-kas.”

IX. Genre III: Men of Action - Men at Work:
The complementary narratives of men at work are explored in the theme of fishermen returning from sea and presenting their catch; construction workers; the erecting of roadblocks during a gas price protest; and in the age old theme of the village barber.

X. Genre IV: Men at Play:
An athlete, football and tennis player himself it was inevitable that Barrington would become the principal depicter of the many areas of sport that excite Jamaican audiences and in which our sportsmen excel. Cricket, athletics, and that popular Jamaican activity the fiery game of dominos, an enduring symbol of male camaraderie, are the examples chosen. They are joined by a recent depiction of a non-Jamaican activity that has caught and sustained the artist’s interest for over forty years – bullfighting!

XI. Landscape:
Less well known than his figurative paintings, Barrington’s frequent forays into landscape painting are summarized in sixteen stellar examples from all periods of his career.

XII. Still Lifes and Flowers; Flora:
Although still lifes, once one of the mainstays of the academic tradition, were well represented in his early oeuvre, they clearly diminished in importance for the artist, although a penchant for the depiction of flowers remains constant. In his later years the metaphoric coupling of women and flowers receives special treatment in a series of canvases devoted to the goddess Flora, the Roman goddess of Flowers. The series is represented here by a single stellar example.

XIII. The Samantha Fantasies:
The exhibition ends with a group of fantasy paintings where The artist’s interests in landscape and nature studies join with his fiercest passion as a painter, that of the depiction of the nude female body. A documentary exhibition which brings the artist’s chronology to life with a display of documents, photographs, sketches, memorabilia, unfinished paintings, and a video documentary completes the presentation.