Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Bulletin 5: The Biennial @ Devon House

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Deborah Anzinger – A Piercing Cold Where We Meet (2017, digital study)

The 2014 edition of the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Jamaica Biennial was shown at multiple venues—a first for this exhibition in Jamaica—and this included Devon House, the original home of the National Gallery and one of Kingston’s main heritage sites. Devon House was included as part of the National Gallery’s fortieth anniversary celebrations, as a home-coming of sorts, but also in response to the Devon House Management’s invitation to organize regular joint exhibitions.

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Laura Facey – Bumpy Top Desk and Mirror (2016)

The Jamaica Biennial 2014 at Devon House featured work by Laura Facey, Ebony G. Patterson (who won the Biennial’s Aaron Matalon Award that year), Greg Bailey, Cosmo Whyte, James Cooper, and Oneika Russell, and was one of the most popular and critically acclaimed parts of the exhibition. The approach taken was for the works selected to be installed the Devon House mansion interior, alongside or in replacement the regular furniture and art works, and, in the case of Laura Facey, also in the formal gardens in front of the house. The result was a rich dialogue between the history and context of the house—which was built and owned by Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George Stiebel, in 1881—and the issues raised in the art works, such as the historical and contemporary dynamics of race and class, the politics of visibility and invisibility in the face of social violence, and our relationship to the natural environment.

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Sharon Norwood – Root of the Matter XI (2016)

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Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Bulletin 4: Biennial at National Gallery West ft. David Gumbs’ Xing Wang Video Installation

National Gallery West

2017-biennial-invitation-montego-bayThe Jamaica Biennial 2017, the National Gallery of Jamaica’s flagship exhibition, is shown at three locations, namely at the National Gallery and Devon House in Kingston and at National Gallery West in Montego Bay. At National Gallery West, which is located at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, Sam Sharpe Square, the Biennial will feature an interactive video installation by the Martinique-based David Gumbs. This exhibition will open to the public on Friday, February 24 at 7 pm. The guest speaker will be His Worship Homer Davis, the Mayor of Montego Bay, and the artist David Gumbs will be in attendance.

david-gumbs-dome-2David Gumbs is one of six specially invited international artists in the Jamaica Biennial 2017, who exhibit along with more than 80 artists from Jamaica and the Jamaican Diaspora, and the inclusion of these international artists is part of the National Gallery’s efforts to give the Biennial…

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Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Bulletin 3: Main Opening Function on February 26

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The main opening function of the Jamaica Biennial 2017 exhibition will take place at the National Gallery of Jamaica on the Kingston Waterfront on Sunday, February 26, starting at 1:30 pm. The keynote speaker will be the Hon. Olivia Grange, MP, Minister of Culture, Entertainment, Gender and Sport, and there will be several live performances by participating artists. Deejay Iset Sankofa will spin music.

With more than 160 works of art by more than 90 artists shown at three different locations—the National Gallery and Devon House in Kingston and National Gallery West in Montego Bay, the Jamaica Biennial 2017 is the largest such exhibition in the National Gallery’s history. It provides a dynamic and diverse overview of current art from Jamaica, elsewhere in the Caribbean and the Diaspora in all artistic media, including painting, sculpture, ceramics, textile and fibre art, photography, installation and new media. The exhibition has four components: special projects by international invitees; tribute exhibitions to two noted Jamaican artists; contributions by the artists who have invited status; and what was selected from the juried submissions—the latter two sections include artists who are born or based in Jamaica and artists of Jamaican descent who live elsewhere.

The resulting Jamaica Biennial 2017 offers a healthy and at times provocative mix of new, emerging and established artists, including recent graduates of the Edna Manley College such as Ziggie Graver and Kelley-Ann Lindo; artists who have never exhibited before such as Nathan Cunningham, who is self-taught; and as well as well-known artists such as Samere Tansley, Marlon James, Laura Facey, David Boxer, Deborah Anzinger, Prudence Lovell, Storm Saulter, Phillip Thomas, Bryan McFarlane, Petrona Morrison, Shoshanna Weinberger, Jasmine Thomas-Girvan and many others. The special projects are by Andrea Chung, David Gumbs, Nadia Huggins, Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow, Raquel Paiewonsky, and Marcel Pinas—all of them artists with Caribbean roots or based in the Caribbean—while the two tribute exhibitions provide overviews of the work of Alexander Cooper and the late Peter Dean Rickards.

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Jamaica Biennial 2017 – Bulletin 2: Installation in Progress

The installation of the Jamaica Biennial 2017 officially started on February 6 with the arrival of Laura Facey’s Ceiba, a giant double-sided drum carved from the trunk of a Cotton tree. Carrying this 30 feet long, multi-tonne art work into the gallery was a major feat, which required the temporary removal of the entrance doors and windows and the assistance of the Jamaica Defense Force, who carried the work manually into the gallery. Needless to say, it was an exciting and at times hair-raising spectacle, which was witnessed by many passers-by, but with the very efficient work of the JDF, the delivery and installation of this giant work of art was completed without incident. Ceiba will be part of the Biennial display in the central galleries, where it is already attracting significant attention, and will also be used for a performance at the main opening function on February 26.

The Jamaica Biennial 2017 will be shown at the NGJ and at Devon House in Kingston, and at National Gallery West in Montego Bay. We have again included special projects by Caribbean and Caribbean Diaspora artists for this edition we invited Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Andrea Chung, David Gumbs, Nadia Huggins, Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow, Raquel Paiewonsky, and Marcel Pinas.  We have also added two tributes, to Alexander Cooper and the late Peter Dean Rickards. In addition to this, the exhibition includes work by invited Jamaican and Jamaican Diaspora artists, and work that was submitted to the juried part of the exhibition. In all, it will be a very diverse exhibition that features work in traditional and new media, and a wide variety of styles, approaches, and subject areas.

The Jamaica Biennial 2017 is, without exaggeration, the largest and most ambitious exhibition ever staged by the NGJ. For the juried section, we received 174 entries by 110 artists, of which 66 entries by 49 artists were selected by our panel of selectors. The invited section yielded 61 art works by 35 artists. The juried and invited sections combined thus consist of 127 works of art and this does not include the special projects and the works of art in the tributes, making it an even larger exhibition than the Jamaica Biennial 2014. Added to that, we have some two dozen installation proposals–the most we have ever received, as well as several exceptionally large works and digital art works that require significant amounts of technical support and specialized equipment. The installation of the Jamaica Biennial therefore comes with special technical and organizational challenges and there will inevitably be some disruption, as some galleries will be temporarily closed and some of the installation work will have to be done during opening hours and in public view. We apologize to our visitors for the inconvenience this may cause but trust that the sampling of works used to illustrate this short blog post will give them an idea of what awaits and why it is well worth waiting for.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

The Jamaica Biennial 2017 will open with a series of event from Friday, February 24 to Sunday, February 26, 2017:

  • Opening function – National Gallery West, David Gumbs’ Xing-Wang project: Friday, February 24 at 7 pm
  • Main opening function – National Gallery of Jamaica: Sunday, February 26 at 1:30 pm (doors will be open from 11 am to 4 pm)

These functions are free and open to the public. The Devon House opening on February 25 will be a private event.

The full Biennial will be on view at all three locations until May 28, 2017.

Regular opening hours at the NGJ:

  • Tuesday-Thursday: 10 am to 4:30 pm
  • Friday: 10 am to 4 pm
  • Saturday: 10 am to 3 pm
  • Last Sundays: every last Sunday of the month, open from 11 am to 4 pm, with entertainment at 1:30 pm

The NGJ is closed on Sundays, except for Last Sundays, and on Mondays. Further visitor info can be found here.

Regular opening hours at National Gallery West/Montego Bay Cultural Centre:

  • Tuesday-Sunday: 9 am to 5 pm

National Gallery West is closed on Mondays and between exhibitions. More information on the Montego Bay Cultural Centre can be found here.

Regular opening hours at Devon House (Mansion tours):

  • Monday-Friday: 9:30 am to 4:30 pm

Visitor information for Devon House can be found here.

Additional opening times will be announced during the course of the Biennial for some of the locations. Please follow us on Facebook @jamaicabiennial for this and any other information pertaining to the Biennial.

Special Viewing of Spiritual Yards, with Nexus Performing Arts Company

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The National Gallery is pleased to present a special viewing of its current exhibition, Spiritual Yards: Home Ground of Jamaica’s Intuitives – Selections from the Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection, on Sunday, January 15, 2017. The Most Honourable Edward Seaga will deliver remarks and the collector Wayne Cox will be in attendance. The critically acclaimed Nexus Performing Arts Company will offer an exclusive musical tour of the exhibition.

The Spiritual Yards exhibition, which opened on December 11, 2016, consists entirely of works of art and documentary material from the art collection of Wayne and Myrene Cox, a specialized collection of Jamaican Intuitive art. The exhibition explores the “spiritual yard” tradition in Jamaica, which is an important yet insufficiently documented part of Jamaica’s popular cultural heritage, and focuses on ten Intuitive artists who produced sacred images and objects for such yards and in most instances. The December 11 opening function also featured a musical tour of the exhibition presented by the critically acclaimed Nexus Performing Arts Company, whose deeply moving performance brought to life the cultural significance of the exhibition and the messages contained in the artists’ work. The performance was so powerful that it was decided to offer it a second time on January 15, 2017.

The National Gallery of Jamaica will be open from 11 am to 4 pm on January 15, 2017 and the function and musical tour will start at 1:30 pm. Admission will be free and the public is invited. Spiritual Yards continues until January 29, 2017. The exhibition catalogue is available for sale in the National Gallery gift shop.

Spiritual Yards – Gallery 5: Errol McKenzie

Spiritual Yards: Home Ground of Jamaica’s Intuitives – Selections from the Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection, continues until January 29, 2017, and explores the spiritual yard tradition in Jamaica, through ten Intuitive artists whose work is steeped in that tradition. The works of art and documentary material in this exhibition were selected from the Wayne and Myrene Cox Collection, a specialized collection of Intuitive Art. Here is the final of our posts on the artists in the exhibition, along with video footage, courtesy of Wayne Cox.

Errol McKenzie (b1954) lives in Walderston in the hills of Manchester. His belief system is is based on his very own spiritual concepts. Aspects of his philosophy, for example, hold the moon as “the centre of energy and eternal power” and women as natural-born leaders. Nowhere is this best expressed by him than in the design of his home called Black Moon Island, home of the “Moon Mother”– an organically shaped stone-house which utilizes concrete wood to create a number of interconnected chambers of varying shapes. As an artist, McKenzie’s body of work includes woodcarvings, cemented free forms, stone arrangements and paintings, all of which display surrealistic elements. Similar to other Jamaican self-taught artists like Brother Brown, Errol McKenzie has a fair amount of international acclaim, having been featured in a number of overseas exhibitions as well as in international publications on “outsider art” such as Raw Vision magazine. Locally, McKenzie’s work has been widely exhibited including the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Intuitives series and Redemption Songs: The Self-Taught Artists of Jamaica (1997) organized by the Diggs Gallery, USA. He was awarded a Bronze Musgrave Medal in Art by the Institute of Jamaica in 1997.