PAINTER and retired educator Cecil Cooper is bemoaning the lack of attention paid to the development of the fine arts in Jamaica.
"There isn't a serious art market here in Jamaica," says Cooper. "This can be blamed by the lack of critical discourse, the absence of influences, as well as the problem of marginal art pieces being sold for exorbitant prices."
"What is to stop an artist from selling for whatever he pleases? We do not have the structures to have items critically appraised in order to come up with an accurate price structure," Cooper adds.
He said the Jamaican public is still "unsophisticated" and therefore, has little or no appetite for what is serious, different, or avant garde.
The artist made the comments while taking the Jamaica Observer through his exhibition of new works at the Mutual Gallery in St Andrew. The exhibition runs until October 26.
The 20-piece collection reintroduces art buffs to some of the ideas and themes Cooper has presented over his career. These include family and the relationship between organic matter, animals, and space.
This is represented by bold colours and soft lines set on large canvases.
The exhibition's centrepiece is the tryptic Curtain Series: Autumn — Lost Time — Rising.
"This work explored the use of time, rising from the ashes and finally breaking through. However, the greater part of interpreting the work is being left to the buyer as a means of owning the piece," he explained.
Cooper says the piece's genesis came while re-decorating his house.
Cooper finds labelling inevitable, but ascribes figurative expressionism to his style of work.
He notes that there is a clear Jamaican perspective with its distinctive iconography, vivid colour and an immediacy and rawness of the surface.
For this collection, Cooper's medium of choice is acrylic on canvas with 12 pieces. He also showcases his talents with acrylic on paper, charcoal on paper, mixed media on paper, and the tryptic, which is acrylic on curtain.