STILL LIFE: A snapshot of Gilpin's "Porcelain Correlation"; (below) Nattoo's "Immersed" and Combs' "I Do/Not Have to Conform".
Today names like Ebony G. Patterson, Phillip Thomas and Leasho Johnson mean something in local and international art circles, years after they got their start in the Young Talent showcase put on by the National Gallery of Jamaica. The 10 impressively talented artists who make up the class of 2015 (a mix of experienced exhibitors and fresh-out-of-college neophytes) have produced bodies of work that stand them in good stead to one day join the ranks of the aforementioned names. In a nutshell, these are challenging pieces that enthrall, provoke and disturb.
What’s more, the diversity that the exhibition (which opened to the public on Sunday) highlights speaks volumes of the varied and vastly dissimilar experiences and inspiration sources of the participants who hail from eclectic backgrounds and seem drawn to themes and subjects that range from body politics and crime to events and perspectives that are shaping the post-colonial world. All depicted in a wide range of artistic media and practices.
From Howard Myrie’s controversy-courting etchings on glass to Monique Gilpin’s vibrant and hypervivid photo prints to Greg Bailey’s gritty-witty depictions of scenes from urban Jamaican life, the work on display command attention and serve as worthwhile conversation pieces.
Taking an uber-innovative approach, Katrina Coombs’ noteworthy “I Do/Not Have to Conform” is a fascinating fusion of satin fabric, wool and pins. Di-Andre Caprice Davis’ use of digital aesthetic reflects a desire to further the exposure and understanding of how technology continues to impact the world. The very skilled Richard Nattoo, an Architecture major at UTech, achieves something subtly spectacular with his pen-and-ink, glass-and-graphite creations.
The show’s curators hit the bulls-eye in describing this 2015 showcase as a reflection of Jamaica’s “exceptionally energetic and innovative contemporary art scene.” But more to the point, it’s a kaleidoscopic feast of visual power and compelling arguments/statements about these rapidly changing times in which we live – and how we’ve been responding to the change.
DYNAMIC DUO: Rising stars Monique Gilpin and Richard Nattoo talk art and life