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Commonwealth Institute

London, United Kingdom

The forerunner of the Commonwealth Institute was known as the Imperial Institute. A measure of its significance, as a venue for the work of artist from countries of the British Empire, or former countries of the British Empre, such as India, can be gleaned from a sentence in a personal recollection by Avinash Chandra. In his text of 1968, Avinash Chandra: Some personal notes (Studio International journal of modern art, October 1968), Chandra wrote (of London, a decade or so earlier), “…Then, like most Indian and other ‘colonial’ painters, I had my first London show at the Commonwealth Institute (then the Imperial Institute) and, once again, enjoyed some success.”

There were two gallery spaces at the Commonwealth Institute, located at Kensington High Street. The main space opened with an inaugural exhibition, Commonwealth Art Today, on 7 November 1962. A second space, known as the Bhownagree Gallery, occupying a passageway/corridor, also existed within this central London complex, which existed to promote the arts, culture, and other aspects of the countries of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Institute hosted a considerable number of important exhibitions, over a period of nearly four decades. These exhibitions included solo shows, group shows, by artists from, or with significant links to, the countries of the Commonwealth. The inaugural exhibition, Commonwealth Art Today, provided an invaluable series of snapshots of contemporary art practice, as it existed across extensive parts of the world. Guyana (then known as British Guiana) was represented by Frank Bowling and Aubrey Williams.

A piece titled Exhibitions at the Commonwealth Institute appeared in the Winter 1973 issue of African Arts magazine (Volume VI, Number 2). The piece was written by South African-born artist Denis Bowen. The text opened, “During the course of any twelve months or so the program of exhibitions organized by the Commonwealth Art Gallery in London invariably provides some opporunities to study the work of contemporary African artists. The 1972 program included exhibitions of paintings by Yusuf Grillo of Nigeria and of wood carvings by Mwariko Omari of Tanzania.” This was in effect a review of these two artists’ work.

Related items + view all 6

click to show details of 1st Commonwealth Biennale of Abstract Art

»  1st Commonwealth Biennale of Abstract Art

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1963

click to show details of Balraj Khanna, Mak Kum-Siew, Shiv Singh

»  Balraj Khanna, Mak Kum-Siew, Shiv Singh

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1970

click to show details of Jamaican Intuitives

»  Jamaican Intuitives

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1986

click to show details of Jamaican Intuitives - Arts Review

»  Jamaican Intuitives - Arts Review

Review relating to an exhibition, 1986

click to show details of Ten Jamaican Sculptors catalogue

»  Ten Jamaican Sculptors catalogue

Catalogue relating to an exhibition, 1975

Exhibitions at this venue

People who have appeared at this venue + view all 88

»  Albert Artwell

Born, 1942 in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica

»  Everald Brown

Born, 1917 in St. Ann, Jamaica. Died, 2002

»  Ras Dizzy

Born, 1927 - 1937 (probably 1932) in Jamaica. Died, 2008

»  Kapo (Mallica Reynolds)

Born, 1911 in St. Catherine, Jamaica. Died, 1989

»  Gaston Tabois

Born, 1918 - 1930 (probably 1924) in Trout Hall, Clarendon, Jamaica. Died, 2012