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*On this date in 1911, Kapo was born. He was an Afro Caribbean painter and sculptor.
From Byuloss in Saint Catherine parish in Jamaica, he was born Mallica Reynolds. Kapo was totally self-taught as an artist. His extremely intuitive art was an extension of his spiritual development, which led him into a life of service to the people of his homeland as a religious leader. Kapo’s first paintings were done in the mid-1940’s consisting of straightforward religious symbols.
However in 1947, he was inspired by God in a dream to represent a scene from the Bible and produced his first important painting; a Black Christ seated and reading the scriptures by the Sea of Galilee. This and other important early paintings demonstrate Kapo’s attitude towards race. In Two Angels the two figures face each other in a gesture of comradeship. One is painted white and the other Black. On the reverse is inscribed the legend “If there are white angels in Heaven then there are Black angels too.”
Many of his sculptures-such as Three Sisters 1963, Revival Goddess Dina 1968, and The Flame 1971 draw on the intense emotionalism and the rhythms and gestures of Revivalism, a offspring Afro-Christian religion. Kapo himself was a Revivalist shepherd and was eventually ordained as the patriarch bishop of the Saint Michael Revival Tabernacle. He began to paint again in the 1960’s and his power as a canvas artist increased while his work in sculptor declined. As a painter Kapo is best known for vibrant representations of the Jamaican landscape. Sweet Oranges 1969, Sunny Hill 1971, and Orange Paradise 1975 are examples.
He also painted traditional Christian themes as well. Foremost among them is Crucifixion 1967, Dark Madonna 1978, and Silent Night 1979. Kapo married Norma Atkinson in 1964; the couple had one daughter (Christine) two years earlier. Kapo died in 1989.
The St. James Guide to Black Artist
Edited by Thomas Riggs
Copyright 1997, St. James Press, Detroit, MI