Ras Dizzy

Ras Dizzy from the heart...

 

The works from Hugh Dunphy's Collection now on show in a small exhibition at the Bolivar Gallery in Kingston, are some of the best of Ras Dizzy's output from around the 1990s. Wild-west marshalls, racing jockeys, market women, exotic birds and fruits all feature in this show that demonstrates his extraordinary talent as a painter and his resiliance as an artist who lived most of his life on the streets. Ras Dizzy's eccentricity and critical stance against society was what made his paintings both lyrical and powerful and, maybe also what made him a marginalized figure in our art world. His unwillingness to adopt the social graces and art world polities meant that even up to his death as an indigent artist in 2008, he was still feared as an unpredictable outcast. As Prof. Carolyn Cooper has noted in her Jamaica Journal (Vol.31, No.3) tribute to the late artist, it is a poor reflection on our patronage of elderly artists and our understanding of self-taught painters such as Ras Dizzy, that we value the art and not the artist. We have educated ourselves to be accepting of their 'intuitive' skills and visions but we have not yet trained our hearts to accommodate them as people. Watch the video.

Ras Dizzy (Birth Livingstone)

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 expereinces/fantasies(?) 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.