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Dixon shows at Jamaica Biennale 2014

Published: 
Sunday, January 11, 2015
Rex Dixon at the opening of the 2014 Jamaica Biennale, National Gallery, Kingston. Photo courtesy Patricia Mohammed

Recognised as one of the most important expatriate artists to have settled in the Caribbean in the last three decades, Trinidad-based Rex Dixon is well known for sustaining the style of abstract expressionism in the region.

Dixon has represented Jamaica in a number of international biennales and exhibitions and has consistently been an invited artist in Jamaica’s Annual National Gallery exhibitions, an event which since 2010 has been held as a National Biennale. 

Dixon, who was born in London and taught in Belfast, worked from 1985–2000 in the Edna Manley School for the Visual Arts as a lecturer in painting. He preserved an ongoing artistic relationship with Jamaica despite moving in 2002 to Trinidad where he has exhibited consistently with the Softbox Gallery and Studios in Alcazar Street, Port-of-Spain. 

Dixon attended the opening of the 2014 Biennale in Jamaica at the National Gallery in Kingston on December 14. His large paintings with their dominant bands of colour were prominently displayed in the main foyer leading in from the entrance to the gallery.

Rachel Barnett, Sotheby-trained art historian and fine art consultant, covered the show in the Jamaica Observer and wrote, “Rex Dixon's Tropical Highrise and Between the Lines […] feature a mature pairing of colour and pattern but in such a fresh juxtaposition that I admit I was surprised to discover his age!” 

These are typical of Dixon’s continued experimentation with form and colour, as he is an artist who perpetually produces new work in an individual style. His preoccupation for the last two to three years is in fact an interesting revitalisation of his earliest exercises in painting as a student and much younger painter where he organises and blocks the tantalising flows of pigment that blend and stroke each other as if to extract the order of colour in a chaotic environment. 

These masterly composition of hard-edged horizontal and vertical lines and shapes that block the gestural abstraction peeping out from behind extend over two very large pieces on canvas, and in the National Gallery were positioned within a gently recessed wall, its subtle depth drawing the thoughtful viewer to stand and pause and look, and walk this way and that, back and forth, achieving perhaps what the painter desired, that a painting requires visual attentiveness. 

The exhibition runs until March at the National Gallery, 12 Ocean Boulevard, Block C, Kingston. 

Patricia Mohammed is professor of Gender and Cultural Studies at UWI, St Augustine. She is married to Rex Dixon. 

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