The Dancehall Art of Wilfred Limonious

Jamaican dancehall illustrator Wilfred Limonious gets a retrospective in the UK

A retrospective exhibition about Jamaican dancehall illustrator Wilfred Limonious has opened at Colston Hall in Bristol. Spanning between the 1970s and 1990s, The Dancehall Art of Wilfred Limonious features a collection of the artist’s newspaper comic strips, illustrations and album artwork.

When Limonious started his career, he created comic strips for the Kingston-based daily newspaper The Star. His cartoon characters such as Amos, a cocky young boy, and Chicken, a married womaniser, became humorous takes on the everyday lives of Jamaicans.

During the 1970s, Limonious worked as an in-house illustrator for the Jamaican Movement for the Advancement of Literacy (JAMAL), a nationwide literacy programme. It was only in the 1980s that his work began to take off and be incorporated into Jamaica’s music industry.

By the time of his death in 1999, Limonious had illustrated more than 150 albums for artists such as Barrington Levy, King Tubby, Yellowman and Sly&Robbie, as well as compilations for labels including Studio One, Power House and Ujama.

Limonious's work, while relatively unknown in artistic circles, has had a large influence on the dancehall and reggae community. It has inspired, among others, Diplo and Switch’s animated music project Major Lazer.

The Dancehall Art of Wilfred Limonious exhibition was co-curated by Al "Fingers" Newman – an author and designer known for books and exhibitions such as Clarks in Jamaica and Sound System Culture – and Chrisopher Bateman, the founder of In Fine Style, a blog dedicated to Wilfred Limonious.

After finishing at Colston Hall, the exhibition will continue at the South London Gallery (23 March-3 April), before travelling to Gallery Oldham in Oldham (8 April - 6 May) and the Tabernacle in west London (23-29 May).

Aside from the exhibition, Newman and Bateman have also created a book on Limonious’s life and work, which is due for release in June.