April 2018

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Christ in Trinidad

The Alma Jordan Library has just ended a small exhibition of some of Jackie Hinkson’s work, featuring pieces from his Christ in Trinidad Series.

Sammarko Lightbourne, who is working on the Master of Fine Arts programme, is currently an intern at the West Indiana and Special Collections section, prepared this synopsis, which accompanied the pieces on display.

In 2004, Jackie Hinkson produced a cathartic and engaging series of paintings called, The Christ in Trinidad Series, a collection of 14 large paintings depicting various biblical scenes surrounding the life of Jesus Christ.

Ever conscious and concerned about the declining conditions within Trinidadian society, Hinkson uses his canvas as an instrument of moral discourse, social engagement, and to capture snapshots of the human experience both mundane and remarkable. While casually surveying the walls of a church one day, the prolific water-colourist was struck by their vacuity. The empty spaces were like a siren’s song compelling him to produce work fitting for display. Embedded in local context, The Christ in Trinidad captures the light, warmth, and space of the region, whose prominent Christ figure allows Trinidadians to evaluate how they see themselves.

The exhibition also featured work by Hinkson scholars and collaborators, ranging from a PhD thesis to children’s literature illustrated by the artist.

Artist’s Statement: It was only after I started painting this series that I realized I had been thinking about it for a long time. I was looking at my society and becoming more concerned about the deterioration in the quality of life. I was agonizing over it.

Then something happened. I was in a church one Sunday and it struck me that often in Europe there are large murals and paintings on the interior walls of churches, but here was an obvious absence. I mentioned this to the priest who happened to be a liberal thinker. He asked me if I wanted to do paintings for the church and I immediately said yes. Here was an opportunity to express what I was feeling about the society, but I realized that if the paintings were going to be placed in a church then they would have to relate to the religion practiced in the church, a Christian one. My solution was to take stories from the life of Christ and reinterpret them in a local societal context. On the surface the paintings would connect with the relevant religion but in reality, they would reflect my feelings about the state of my society.

The paintings were begun around 2001 and were ‘completed’ in about 3 years. I still go back to them and have made a few changes and improvements, but not major compositional ones.