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Knolly Greenidge

(1937 - 1999)

 


Knolly Greenidge

 

Born in 1937 in Cedros, Trinidad, he went to school at the Cedros Government School.

He later moved to Siparia and studied Architectural Draughtsmanship and Building Design at BIET AND UBOT Training School in Palo Seco.
At age 16 he went to work in the Works Department in Siparia.

A self-taught artist, he remembers drawing and sketching from his primary school days but it was not until 1960 that he started to take his art seriously.

In 1957 he joined the Southern Art Society (SAS) and later the Trinidad Art Society. At the Southern Art Society he came under the influence of Irish artist, Brother Fergus Griffin of Presentation College, art teacher and founder of SAS and Isaiah Boodhoo, but adopted his own semi-abstract style.

Greenidge worked in watercolours and oils. "I like the feel of the brush on canvas. Painting is my life....". Greenidge has exhibited in Brazil, England and Suriname. He had several one-man shows in Trinidad and won prizes in the PNM Anniversary Art Competition (1965), and ILO Art - Competition (1971). He exhibited in several joint and one-man exhibitions from 1964 to 1991.

Knolly Greenidge has taught himself to paint the Trinidad experience. In ways unlike any other local artist, living or dead, he captured the essence of life on this culturally vibrant cosmopolitan island.

Born in Cedros in 1937, he remained in that location to complete his academic and technical education and close to Griffin and other members of the Southern Art Society, he held his first one man exhibition. Several exhibitions and many awards followed in the intervening years. His work is owned and cherished by collectors in England, Germany, France, Canada, Scotland, Brazil and the United States. Whether they seek to reflect rural or urban realities, his watercolours and oils are always sensitive and captivating. Some deal with the living conditions of the less fortunate in Trinidad society as they portray people trying to survive in conditions of urban blight. At other times, he concentrated on the delightful and almost serene vistas that are also part of the urban experience.

Great as he was at capturing life in the city, Knolly Greenidge loved to return to the tranquility of "the country". His strength as a painter derived from his roots in rural Trinidad. His work in this context is testimony to the dedication of the people to the land. Here too we find serenity but almost always with a suggestion that the characters portrayed are caught in the performance of tasks that are tedious and even unrewarding.

He was equally adept at illustrating the rich diversity of Trinidad culture. Collectors of his work comment on the incredible vitality of his dancers, his pannists, his drummers, who all come to life on his lush canvases in the unique Greenidge style. It is difficult to look at his market scenes and not imagine the voices of the characters. Knolly Greenidge has earned the praise and admiration of fellow artists at home and internationally. While this level of recognition has eluded many of his contemporaries, in Greenidge's case it is richly deserved.


Knolly Greenidge - Resting, Midday Heat - 1990 - acrylic on paper