Art and Africa

Object Details

Barrington Watson
alkyd on canvas
72 3/16 × 96 1/16 × 2 3/8 in. (183.3 × 244 × 6 cm)
Barrington Watson (1931-2016) depicts a colorful arrangement of masks and figures in this painting executed in oil or alkyd on canvas. The social realist centers three figures backlit in yellow, green, and orange, including an African woman holding a child on her hip and raising a pestle above her head while an African statue on a pedestal holds a bowl. Face masks flank the figures. Beside the woman is a large wooden African mask, while a white mask similar to a fencer’s guard covers a huge shape behind the statue, possibly a mask in progress. A smaller wooden African mask rests propped up against it. Rays of light shine from the background. The Jamaican artist studied at Kingston College before attending art schools in London, Amsterdam, and Paris. He returned to Jamaica and mentored generations of artists. As part of an exhibition by the Museum of African Art in the mid-1970s, this painting was on display at the Independence Federal Savings and Loan, a Black-owned bank headquartered on Connecticut Avenue in downtown Washington, DC.
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