This is our third in the series of posts on artists the upcoming Young Talent V exhibition at the NGJ, which is now confirmed to open on May 16. Marvin Bartley was born in Lionel Town, Clarendon Jamaica. He attended the Edna Manley College from 2003 to 2007 where he studied painting but photography had already become his main interest when he started his final year project, a series of haunting manipulated images inspired by Dante’s Divina Commedia. Since graduating, he has earned acclaim as a fashion and fine art photographer. His fashion photography has been featured in Iconography, She Caribbean, Jamaque, Posh, Skywritings, German Playboy, Buzz, Shabeau, and Back A Yard. He has participated in the following exhibitions: the J.C.D.C. Fine Arts Exhibition, Shortwood Teacher’s College, 2005; Jamaica National Biennial, National Gallery of Jamaica, 2006; Materializing Slavery, National Gallery of Jamaica 2007; and Kingston on the Edge, Gallery 128, 2007. Marvin Bartley’s participation in Young Talent V is curated by Dr. David Boxer, the NGJ’s Chief Curator.
When asked about who I am, I refer to my profession first and then my name. I am a fashion, commercial and fine art photographer. My interest in photography was never planned. I went to the Edna Manley College of the visual and Performing arts to become a painter. Classical painting was my main interest, however despite my intentions then, fate had other plans. I slowly grew an interest in photography and soon realized that the basic understanding of classic painting composition, light and so on, could be applied to digital photography and digital editing in ways unimaginable.
My fine art imagery represents a graphic depiction of ideas relating to Christian religion and doctrines of the afterlife, particularly the ideas documented by Poet Dante Alighieri in his epic poem ‘La Divina Commedia’. This fascination with the afterlife and its circles was born out of mere curiosity and then developed into this almost incessant need to understand documented ideas on life after death. Dante’s poetry revealed far more than any other material as it relates to punishment met and the journey of souls in the after life, the Divine Comedy.
My photographic images are created by a combination of physical and digital construction. Essentially, depending on the project, they come to life through the manufacturing of grand or miniature sets, the attainment of associated props and models, which are digitally captured These photographs are eventually assorted, in composites of as many as 500 images, and enhanced with the use of Photoshop.
Another side to my photography is fashion. In many ways it is different from the religiously themed and bizarre photographs earlier mentioned. However on a basic level they are quite similar as the process of transforming models and space through digital capture, retouching and manipulation is equally shared with my other images.
My interest in fashion photography started four years ago when I was introduced to fashion designer and stylist, Dexter Pottinger. Quickly the interest morphed into serious devotion and my images have now graced the covers and pages of many reputable magazines. I have also been granted the opportunity to work in the commercial sector, shooting for various companies in entertainment, advertising, real estate, as well as album covers and model agencies, locally and internationally. The year 2009 marked the turning point in my career, where I was able to create beautiful high fashion images with major designers such as Catalin Botezatu, Sushma Patel, Gavin Douglas, Deola Sagoe and many others. It is my intention to become a household name not only in Jamaica, but in the rest of the Caribbean. While I pursue this endeavor, I anticipate that my work will segue into the North American and European fashion market.
Fashion photography allows me the freedom to transform everyday spaces, models and outfits into something more exorbitant. More importantly, there is hardly any comparison to the pleasure and responses received when the images are viewed in the publications that are distributed across the globe. For these reasons my knack for producing beautiful imagery will forever be explored.
Currently, I reside and work in Kingston, Jamaica. My work behind and beyond the camera has become more than a profession. It provides, for me, an escape from normality and a way to create my thoughts in a modern, creative and intriguing way.