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    May 23

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Lifetime award for Ras Akyem

rhondathompson, rhondathompson@nationnews.com

Added 13 October 2010


The Committee for the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts has selected outstanding artist Ras Akyem I Ramsay to be the recipient of the 2010 award. This year marks the seventh presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award In The Visual Arts, which was initiated in 2001 to give due recognition and honour to visual artists who have made significant contributions to artistic development in Barbados. In a Press release yesterday, the committee stated that it was felt that in Barbados, artists receive only a fraction of the acclaim given to other prominent achievers. “With the support of the Nation Publishing Company, the Central Bank of Barbados and other generous sponsors, the award is held every other year and the accompanying retrospective of the artists’ works are eagerly anticipated by art enthusiasts,” the committee added. Ras Akyem has had a prolific career as an artist spanning over three decades. From his childhood in New Orleans, The City, he knew he wanted to be an artist and has achieved his goal with vigour and perseverance. His work has been described as “brilliant”, “revolutionary”, “militant” and “authentic”.  This “art animal” considers art as the essence of his being and he chose to pursue his art on a full-time, professional basis, determined to gain the respect he felt artists deserved. Akyem first came to the public’s attention when his powerful large painting, House Of King David, won the Art Collection Foundation’s Purchase Award in 1984. The following year his piece, Mother Earth, won the Caribbean Benson & Hedges World Of Art Competition. Explosive paintings But it was at the 1989 Vexx exhibition at Queen’s Park Gallery that Akyem’s and Ishi’s explosive paintings caused consternation among patrons.  The DAILY NATION of June 1, 1989, reported on the exhibition as “arguably the most expressive local visual arts exhibition ever to be staged in Barbados”. Other notable exhibitions of Akyem’s work have been Havana – Antes y Despues at the Kirby Gallery in 1998 and some years later, Dark Angel at Zemicon. Influenced by Rastafari, Akyem has used his art “as a tool to make social statements or to highlight social ills”. Controversial though his art has been, his talent has been lauded locally, regionally and internationally, and his pieces are avidly acquired by private collectors and national collections.  Over 30 of Akyem’s major paintings will be exhibited at the Grand Salle of the Central Bank from Sunday until October 23. (PR)


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