The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Young Talent exhibition series was introduced in 1985 and has seen five editions thus far, the last of which – Young Talent V – was held in 2010. The purpose of this exhibition series is to provide exposure to the work of artists under forty years old, in and from Jamaica, and the series supports an important aspect of the NGJ’s mandate, which is to actively encourage new developments in Jamaican art and to support the work of young and emerging artists. The series also encourages public critical dialogue about new directions in Jamaican art and culture and provides a platform for innovative curatorial practice. Several well-known Jamaican artists are alumni of the series, including Omari Ra, Basil Watson, Anna Henriques, Khalfani Ra, Paul Stoppi, Ebony G. Patterson, Phillip Thomas, Leasho Johnson, Oneika Russell, Marvin Bartley, Michael Elliott, and Marlon James. A related exhibition – New Roots – was held in 2013 and featured artists such as Matthew McCarthy, Camille Chedda, Storm Saulter, Varun Baker, and Deborah Anzinger.
Another exhibition in the Young Talent series is scheduled open on August 30, 2015 and will feature ten artists under forty, namely Greg Bailey, Alicia Brown, Katrina Coombs, Di-Andre Caprice Davis, Domanie Denniston, Monique Gilpin, Howard Myrie, Richard Nattoo, Avagaye Osborne, and Cosmo Whyte. The selection process for Young Talent 2015 was based on a call for submissions and a total of thirty-five entries were received. While the original intent was to feature only eight artists, the curatorial team decided to increase this number to ten, in response to the quality and range of entries. The selections were made by Executive Director Veerle Poupeye, Senior Curator O’Neil Lawrence and Assistant Curators Monique Barnett-Davidson and Tesha Chai, who will also serve as the curatorial team for this exhibition.
Young Talent 2015 covers a healthy range of contemporary art practices, from the realist portrait paintings of Greg Bailey and Alicia Brown to the textile- and fibre-based works of Katrina Coombs and Avagaye Osborne. The focus on textile- and fibre-based media is a relatively new development in local contemporary art and is part of a broader trend of experimentation with media, which is also evident in the glass-based work of Howard Myrie, Richard Nattoo and Domanie Denniston. As in Young Talent V and New Roots, there is a strong representation of photography-based media, as can be seen in the work of Domanie Denniston, Di-andre Caprice Davis, Monique Gilpin and Cosmo Whyte, although the latter now also produces three-dimensional constructions. While there is no deliberate common theme in the exhibition, the works selected are perhaps best understood as a mirror of the contemporary world, in Jamaica and globally and address issues such as the politics of gender, sexuality and race and, in several instances, use subtle formal and verbal strategies to make powerful statements that all lives matter.
In all, Young Talent 2015 promises to be a strong, engaging and at times provocative exhibition and a worthy successor to Young Talent V and New Roots.