Barb Wires & Picket Fences

Barb Wires & Picket Fences

About seven years ago, I was sitting in the living room of a major collector of Jamaican art when, amidst piles of paper and art books, I came across a hardcover journal with pages of densely handwritten notes and drawings. The writings detailed broad surveys of various topics and themes which provided the intellectual basis for dozens of paintings done, partially done or never begun. The journal belonged to Phillip Thomas. It appeared that, like Alfred Hitchcock who is known to have storyboarded all his films before a single camera had been turned on, Thomas approaches his work in a similar vein with extensive thinking, planning and drafting before he puts brush to canvas. Nothing is by accident. Everything is laden with symbolism and intent. Thomas is not simply a painter: he might be the most cerebral painter Jamaica has ever had.

Tonight Phillip Thomas asks us to contemplate Barb Wires and Picket Fences. Barb wires and picket fences are demarcating lines that typically separate landowners from non-landowners, or separate one landowner from another. Someone is usually inside the fence and someone is usually outside. Barb wires are their own protection as they are difficult to cross. The wire, after all, can ‘jook’ you. Picket fences, on the other hand, are protective only in so far as they have institutional power backing them up. You dare not cross this picket fence or you will be arrested! Thomas sees far greater violence in the gentility of rules that govern the global world order of the picket fences. One of his installations here tonight is even titled When the grass is cut, the snakes will come out.

ART:Jamaica e.g. (Photo Credit: www.artjamaica.blogspot.com)

ART:Jamaica e.g. (Photo Credit: www.artjamaica.blogspot.com)

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ART:Jamaica e.g. (Photo Credit: www.artjamaica.blogspot.com)

ART:Jamaica e.g. (Photo Credit: www.artjamaica.blogspot.com)

ART:Jamaica e.g. (Photo Credit: www.artjamaica.blogspot.com)

ART:Jamaica e.g. (Photo Credit: www.artjamaica.blogspot.com)

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