Na­tional Gallery pays homage to Ce­cil Cooper

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT -

THE NA­TIONAL Gallery of Ja­maica (NGJ ) has paid homage to renowned Ja­maican pain­ter, singer, and art ed­u­ca­tor Ce­cil Har­vey Cooper, CD, who died on the morn­ing of Septem­ber 15, 2016.

Ce­cil Cooper was born in Hanover, Ja­maica, in 1946. In 1966, he was one of the first grad­u­ates of the full-time diploma pro­gramme that had been in­tro­duced at the Ja­maica School of Art un­der the di­rec­tor­ship of Bar­ring­ton Wat­son. He also lived in the USA, where he stud­ied and ob­tained a BFA and, later, an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

In 1981, Cooper be­came head of the Paint­ing De­part­ment of his alma mater, the Ja­maica School of Art, which is now part of the Edna Man­ley Col­lege of the Visual and Per­form­ing Arts. He con­tin­ued in that po­si­tion un­til his re­tire­ment in 2009 and has taught and men­tored many noted younger artists, such as Omari Ra, Oneika Rus­sell, Phillip Thomas and Ebony G. Pat­ter­son.

Ce­cil Cooper worked mainly in paint me­dia, us­ing ges­tu­ral paint­ing and draw­ing tech­niques. His the­matic pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with the joys and Ce­cil Cooper at his stu­dio in Novem­ber 2015.

anx­i­eties of the hu­man con­di­tion, and par­tic­u­larly the cen­tral roles of women in so­ci­ety, re­flected a romantic tem­per­a­ment that was also ev­i­dent in his mu­si­cal work as a classical tenor. He ex­hib­ited reg­u­larly at the NGJ, Har­mony Hall, the Mu­tual Gallery and, most re­cently, Round Hill and the Olympia Art Gallery. He also ex­hib­ited at over­seas gal­leries such as the Sava­cou Gallery in New York City.

His work is rep­re­sented in many pri­vate, cor­po­rate and pub­lic col­lec­tions, in­clud­ing the col­lec­tion of the NGJ.

Sen­a­tor Tom Tavares-Finson, chair­man of the NGJ’s board of man­age­ment, paid trib­ute to Cooper “as one of the artists who had charted the direc­tion of Ja­maican art in re­cent decades, through his out­stand­ing artis­tic work and his dis­tin­guished ser­vice to in­sti­tu­tions such as the Na­tional Gallery and the Edna Man­ley Col­lege.”

Dr Veerle Poup­eye, the NGJ’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, hailed Ce­cil Cooper as “an artist who was com­pletely im­mersed in his art as a way of life and a pas­sion­ate art ed­u­ca­tor who challenged his stu­dents to be and do their best at all times.”

Ce­cil Cooper had cel­e­brated his 70th birth­day in June 2016 with a ma­jor ex­hi­bi­tion of work from 1978 to 2016, ti­tled ‘Mile­stone: Ce­cil Cooper at 70’, which was held at the Olympia Gallery. On Septem­ber 6, 2016, he re­ceived the Or­der of Dis­tinc­tion (OD), Com­man­der Class, for his in­valu­able con­tri­bu­tion to the arts. In 1993, he had been awarded the In­sti­tute of Ja­maica’s Bronze Mus­grave Medal for his con­tri­bu­tion to paint­ing and art ed­u­ca­tion.

He was a mem­ber of the NGJ’s cur­rent board of man­age­ment. He had also served on pre­vi­ous NGJ boards.

Ce­cil Cooper (left) with Prime Min­is­ter An­drew Hol­ness at the open­ing of his ‘Mile­stone’ ex­hi­bi­tion at the Olympia Gallery on June 17, 2016.

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