R.I.P. Seya Parboosingh, 1925–2010

by Nicholas Laughlin on August 20, 2010

Sharing at the Table, by Seya Parboosingh

Sharing at the Table (1999), by Seya Parboosingh. Image courtesy the National Gallery of Jamaica

Seya Parboosingh, American-born artist living in Jamaica since 1958, died on Friday 13 August in Kingston.

The National Gallery of Jamaica blog published a short obituary:

The painter and poet Seya Parboosingh, née Samila Joseph, was born in 1925, in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She was of Lebanese descent. She attended the University of Iowa, where she concentrated on creative writing. Seya met and married Jamaican artist Karl Parboosingh in New York in 1957 and began to paint under his direction. The couple settled in Jamaica in 1958 and that year they had their first joint exhibition at the Kingston and St. Andrew Parish Library. Seya spent most of her active life in Jamaica and was a well-recognised member of the Jamaican artistic community . . .

The close artistic partnership between Seya and Karl Parboosingh continued until the time of his death in 1975 and arguably endured beyond that time. Some of her most poignant works were visual expressions of her grief at his passing.

The critic Petrine Archer wrote a profile of Parboosingh for Caribbean Beat in 2000. You can download a PDF of the piece here. Archer wrote:

Seya’s painting has always tended towards minimalism. Her surfaces are characterised by a handful of motifs and images that she uses again and again. Typical are her silent female figures and seemingly isolated objects drawn from nature. Flowers, fruits, birds, fish and angelic figures are painted so that they relate to each other, but still remain separate. Even when they touch they rarely interact; each object seems self-sufficient with a sense of wholeness. But partnered with one another, her subjects tell a story of cosmic unity and love among all things.

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