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Passings : Christopher Gonzalez

Jamaican sculptor irked Marley's fans

August 07, 2008|From Times Wire Reports

Christopher Gonzalez, 65, whose expressionist sculptures and paintings earned him a reputation as a pioneer in Jamaican art but whose statue of reggae legend Bob Marley brought angry protests, died of cancer Saturday at a hospital in Montego Bay, said Kay Osbourne, managing director of Television Jamaica.

Gonzalez's 9-foot statue of Marley, which depicted the beloved Jamaican musician with a distorted face and a tree trunk for a lower body, was pelted with rocks and fruit at its 1983 unveiling in Kingston on the second anniversary of Marley's death. Angry reggae fans said the abstract statue bore little resemblance to the songwriter. The artwork is now housed at a museum in Ocho Rios.

A native of Kingston, Gonzalez was born to a Puerto Rican father and a Jamaican mother. He studied art at the Jamaican School of Art in the mid-1960s and won a government-sponsored commission to create a bust of George William Gordon, a Jamaican national hero.

He received postgraduate training at several institutions abroad, including the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland and Spelman College in Atlanta.

A great fan of the reggae king, Gonzalez received the government commission for the Marley statue while living in Atlanta. According to a 2002 article by the news agency Inter Press Service, the work took him six months to finish and midway through construction it received an enthusiastic response from the curator at Jamaica's National Gallery.

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