Culture

Dancehall Artist Who Inspired Major Lazer Graphics Gets A London Show

Wilfred Limonious isn’t well-known outside of Jamaica, but his album art has inspired generations of dancehall fans.
27 March 2016, 4:00pm
All images courtesy of One Love Books and tthe South London Gallery

Vinyl collectors and anyone else who likes their music tangible can really appreciate the importance of album art. When you buy a record, you get a piece of music and a piece of art, one that can be just as fascinating and evocative as the songs on the album. Most artists whose work accompanies records aren’t celebrated in their own rights (with a few notable exceptions), but the South London Gallery is devoting a new exhibit to Jamaican illustrator Wilfred Limonious, whose art works were the visual soundtrack to dancehall culture.

"I discovered Limonious through his reggae and dancehall album jackets,” musician, cultural historian, and In Fine Style co-curator Al Newman tells The Creators Project. "In 2011 I began collaborating with Canadian author Christopher Bateman on a book about Limonious' life and work and learned more about his cartoons for the Jamaican newspapers and his illustrations for the publications of JAMAL, the Jamaican Movement for the Advancement of Literacy."

His newspaper comics have secured an enduring legacy in Jamaica for Limonious, who died in 1999. But outside of the island, his work is mostly known by dancehall devotees. Ferry Gouw, the artist who makes Major Lazer’s iconic illustrations, has been influenced by Limonious’s work. But this exhibit posits that Limonious should be recognized not just by reggae fans, but by the art world at large. "Through the book and exhibition we hope to change the way dancehall art is perceived, to preserve Limonious' legacy and to make his work accessible to people  who might not otherwise be aware of it,” says Newman.

_In Fine Style: The Dancehall Art of Wilfred Limonious _runs at the South London Gallery until April 3rd before travelling north to Gallery Oldham as part of a UK tour. The exhibition was produced by One Love Books alongside a coffee table book on Limonious' life and art, due for release in August 2016. For more information, click here.

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