Jamaica Observer: Biennial Calling

By ARC Magazine Thursday, December 13th, 2012 Categories: Reviews, Updates

Richard Johnson from the Jamaica Observer reviews the National Gallery of Jamaica, National Biennial 2012.

The consensus coming out of Sunday’s official opening of the National Biennial Exhibition at the National Gallery is that this is its strongest showing to date. Scores of enthusiasts poured into the downtown Kingston venue to view the works of 86 Jamaican artists — 50 of whom were invited to exhibit, while the remaining 36 entered through a jury system.

Ebony G. Patterson's 'Di Real bad man'. Image by Alexander Girvan

The works cover all areas of the fine arts, including painting, sculpture and photography. New media, including film, also form part of the collection. Invited artist and Musgrave medallist Ebony G Patterson was one of those with high praise for the exhibition. ”It’s the strongest show to date,” she gushes. “The work is all incredibly creative. It points to the cusp of change on which the National Gallery finds itself at this time. What you are witnessing is the emergence of younger artists… it is an exciting time, and this is reflected in the Biennial.”

Ebony G. Patterson's installation 'The Observation (Bush Cockerel)- A fictitious History'. Photography by Deborah Anzinger

Patterson’s use of two male models as an extension of her multimedia video installation: The Observation (Bush Cockerel) — A fictitious History, was definitely one of of the highlights of opening day. She explains: “I am looking at the correlation between man and birds. I am analysing the appearance of the contemporary man. And while many will say it is some form of African retention, I am putting forward that it goes much further, and appeals to our animal instincts. It’s part of my wider study of gender and measuring masculinity.”

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan- Dreaming Backwards. Image by Alexander Girvan

Sculptor Laura Facey also raised a few eyebrows with her work, De hangin of Phibbah An Her Private Parts An De Bone Yard. This artist, who is best known nationally for her Redemption Song which stands at Emancipation Park, presented more phallic symbols in this piece. ”What can I say…it is a wonderful part of life,” she told the Jamaica Observer when asked about another presentation of male genitalia. And of the Biennial, Facey said: “It is a very strong showing by our artists and I love being part of it… it’s just wonderful.”

Brooklyn-based, St James-born photographer Radcliffe Roye was humbled to be one of the juried artists. ”It is an honour for a little kid from Farm Heights who follows his dream. Last summer, I said to myself I would love to have my work in the National Gallery and here I am today…it hasn’t really set in.” Roye has two photos — Shivering and Petula (Sunset Queen) — as part of the collection. He explains that his work is “seasoned from a ghetto perspective” giving a voice to the voiceless.

De hangin of Phibbah An Her Private Parts An De Bone Yard by Laura Facey. Image by Alexander Girvan

Strong pieces include Donnette Zacca’s 20-piece photo story, On the Sixth day — Man; Jasmine Thomas-Girvan’s Dreaming Backwards, Franz Marzouca’s Canoe Nude Series; Entrapment by Duane Allen is also a must-see; Birth of Venus by Marvin Bartley was definitely eye-popping as well as Stephan Clarke’s triptych, Life: Faith/Love/Death.


Original Post from the Jamaica Observer

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ARC Inc. is a non-profit print and online publication and social platform launched in 2011. It seeks to fill a certain void by offering a critical space for contemporary artists to present their work while fostering and developing critical dialogues and opportunities for crucial points of exchange. ARC is an online and social space of interaction with a developed methodology of sharing information about contemporary practices, exhibitions, partnerships, and opportunities occurring in the Caribbean region and throughout its diasporas.