Omari Ra was born in 1960, in Kingston, Jamaica. Ra (also known as “Afrikan”) studied painting at the Jamaica School of Art (now the Edna Manley School of the Visual Arts) and graduated in 1983. Ra’s work provides provocative, satirical commentaries on the historical and contemporary issues that have shaped the African Diaspora. Currently, the Head of the Painting Department at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Ra also holds an MFA from the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth. He has exhibited widely locally and internationally, participating in exhibitions such as the 1995 Johannesburg Biennial, and the Annual National and Biennial exhibitions in Jamaica. In 2004, he was awarded the Aaron Matalon Award for his entry in the 2004 National Biennial, and in 2011, Omari Ra was awarded the Silver Musgrave Medal by the Institute of Jamaica. He lives in Kingston, Jamaica.
K. Khalfani Ra was born in 1958, in Kingston, Jamaica. He was educated at the Jamaica School of Art where he received a Diploma in painting, 1983 and spent a year in Zimbabwe on a Commonwealth Fellowship. Ra has been a regular exhibitor locally and overseas: recent shows include Infinite Island (2007) at the Brooklyn Museum and the National Biennial 2014 at the NGJ. In 2004, Ra received a Purchase Award in the National Gallery of Jamaica’s National Biennial. His work tends to be provocative, targeting issues of the perception of blackness, sexuality and religion, and attacking the creolization of the Jamaican narrative. He lives in Kingston, Jamaica
Winston Patrick was born in 1946, in Clarendon, Jamaica. Patrick attended the Jamaica School of Art where he attained a Diploma in Sculpture 1966. He also attended the National Academy of Fine Arts (1966) and the School of the Brooklyn Museum of Art (1969), in New York. Since the late 1970s he has exhibited extensively both locally and abroad. He is best known for his exquisitely carved, tactile woodcarvings that make simple but powerful statements in space. Patrick lives in Kingston, Jamaica.
On Tuesday, we received the sad news of the passing of David Marchand, just short of what would have been his seventy-third birthday. Marchand was one of the most unique Jamaican artists, legendary for his eccentricity (and at times bellicose personality) but even more so for his brilliant, quirky visionary paintings and assemblage boxes. The National Gallery of Jamaica’s pay tribute to him and his unique body of work.
David Marchand was born in Old Harbour, St. Catherine, in 1944. He studied art in New York City in the 1960s but he found that the city had too many distractions and returned to Jamaica. His first solo exhibition was at the Contemporary Artists Association Gallery on Oxford Road in 1970. He briefly worked for a local advertising industry but soon retreated from formal employment to focus on his art and, arguably, to live life on his own unconventional terms. In recent decades, his studio and home was in Runaway Bay, St Ann, where he shared space with a large number of cats in the burnt-out shell of what must once has been a glamorous beachfront residence, a family property.
Marchand’s “big break” as an artist may never have come, as he frequently lamented, but his artistic work was well respected in the local artistic community and he had the support of several loyal friends and collectors. The producer and art collector Maxine Walters was arguably his greatest champion and her daughter, the film-maker Chloe Walters-Wallace, has been working on a documentary on Marchand and his work, titled Tsunami Scarecrow. The title of the documentary refers to Marchand’s often-told vision of a major tsunami, approaching not from the sea in front of his home, as one would have expected, but from over the hills behind him—a cataclysmic event that would have destroyed the island of Jamaica and perhaps the rest of the world. The title also refers to his unusual appearance—a thin, scarecrow-like figure with wild, wiry hair.
The Jamaica Biennial 2017 is almost in its last month as it closes on May 28, and is a must-see exhibition. Here is a short feature on Bryan McFarlane, whose two paintings, which are presented as a diptych, and video can be seen at the National Gallery of Jamaica on the Kingston Waterfront.
Bryan McFarlane was born in Moore Town, Portland. McFarlane was educated at the Jamaica School of Art and earned a MFA at the Massachusetts College of Art in 1983. He is Professor of Painting and Drawing at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and has previously served as Visiting Professor to a number of institutions including the University of the West Indies and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He is currently working on a three year project with research scientists, jointly with EMMAS and TERC, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with a grant from the National Science Foundation. McFarlane has been featured in numerous exhibitions locally and internationally and is well represented in a number of public and private collections. His paintings and mixed media works explore his Maroon heritage, African Diaspora culture and the environmental threats of the Anthropocene. Among his many accolades, McFarlane was awarded a gold medal by the Chinese Government for his entry in the Olympics Fine Arts Exhibition in Beijing in 2008. He was also awarded the Silver Musgrave Medal by the Institute of Jamaica for his contribution to art and art education. Bryan McFarlane lives in the USA and St Andrew, Jamaica.
Franz Marzouca’s work in the Jamaica Biennial 2017 can be seen at the National Gallery of Jamaica in downtown Kingston until May 28.
Franz Marzouca was born in 1959, Kingston, Jamaica. Marzouca studied photography at TASIS, Switzerland and Barry University in Miami. Since 1982 he has been working as a commercial photographer, executing commissions for major clients in the Caribbean and North America. Marzouca has participated in numerous art shows including the Annual National and Biennial exhibitions of the National Gallery of Jamaica as well as the annual Liguanea Art Festivals. Marzouca lives in Kingston, Jamaica.