As an artist, being plain-spoken leads to blacklisting

Dear Editor,
My name is Jorge Norberto Bowenforbes. I am an internationally acclaimed artist who has proved my mettle not in Guyana, but to the very International audience who embraced me with many awards and sentiments, and who were not pleased to see me leave. I was born in British Guiana and have lived the major extent of my life abroad, where the general consensus and expectation was for a man to speak his mind firmly and plainly. But not so in Guyana – where the result of being plain-spoken here has become the wide avenue en route to being blacklisted. I must now divulge that I am what notably is referred to as an advance guard – there are many other talented and learned individuals who are ready to remigrate to Guyana but who are watching and waiting to see if my sacrifice would be appreciated. The late Mr. Basil Hinds in an article he wrote for the press in 1977 of my art exhibition which was mounted at Colgrain House at the invitation of Ms. Lynette Dolphin’s Department of Culture stated that all of Guyana should show me the same courtesy and acknowledgement as was shown me abroad. But the likes of the Basil Hindses and Lynette Dolphins are no more. So every prospective remigrant should expect to be blacklisted by the keepers of the keys if only they speak their minds freely. Is this what a country which professes a staunch bent on democracy should favour?

I returned to Guyana in the last quarter of 2009 and brought with me some 650 paintings most of which were well received abroad, and to date only 30 were allowed to be shown. My aim was to have the peoples of Guyana observe what the sons and daughters of Guyana can become. I came back to pass on my knowledge por gratis. I gave a lecture and painting demonstration at the Burrowes School of Art, and some of the students have told me they expected to see me again. Stanley Greaves in an email response to a press article on my remigration stated that the cultural entities and the very Burrowes School should make use of my expertise. Too, at the risk of offending others by patting myself on my back I ask: Who in Guyana has accomplished what I have in the visual arts?

Who is better known around the world in any field of endeavour? I came back to pass on for free the knowledge which took me a lifetime to acquire. So blacklisting me will only serve to deprive would-be aspirants the opportunity of learning from me by observation or by word. And why should anyone blacklist another just so to exhibit the power they possess? Why should they endeavour to cut their nose just so to spite their own face? Spite creates a deprivation in addition to having the individual bent on spite appear ugly. I never expected to sell my paintings in Guyana, as they are too costly. I never intended to seek employment in Guyana, as I am presently retired. Guyana is the country in which I was born. Guyana is my country and anyone who tries will have a stout undertaking at hand at attempting to force me to leave. I have observed many instances and events as have to do with visual arts wherein I could have been invited to participate, but was overlooked. I think, and here again I will speak my mind plainly in stating that it will always show simple commonsense to include your very best when selecting a group to represent you. Anyone could easily take to the misinformation that I am no longer in the country, until they see me and ask: how come you were not invited to the cultural get together of the Guianas, or to the Caricom event? I myself could give no answers, and they could only offer -you are blacklisted for being plain spoken. How reproachful. Guyana indeed has a lot of growing up to contend with.

Yours faithfully,
Jorge Bowenforbes

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