During the course of the Jamaica Biennial 2014, which is on view until March 15, at the National Gallery of Jamaica, Devon House, National Gallery West and, for Blue Curry’s project, on the streets of Downtown Kingston, we will be posting short features on projects, works and artists in the exhibition. Here is the first, on Matthew McCarthy and his Regal Zeen project, which was launched as a performance at the Biennial’s main opening reception on December 14.
Matthew McCarthy was born in Kingston in 1992. He is a Jamaica-based illustrator and mural painter who has spent the last five years indulging his obsession with Jamaican street signs, old school dancehall illustrations and global street art movements through an art practice that engages and challenges the traditional art institution. Since his graduation from the Edna Manley College of Visual Art in 2013, McCarthy has exhibited at the NGJ in the New Roots (2013) exhibition of ten emerging artists, and been a key figure in the development of street art in Jamaica, via first the Paint Jamaica project and later the Paint Jamaica initiative. His work looks at issues of identity and politics, articulating hope for the expansion of political and artistic horizons.
Matthew McCarthy’s Regal Zeen is the start of a new project, a print and online “zeen” that will make regular interventions into Jamaica’s social and artistic environment. McCarthy says: “Regal manifested out of the need to establish a sustainable and artistic lifestyle archive among young like-minded creative individuals, with the greater intention of inspiring a productive change in our environment. These images represent a shift in the very being of our nation’s people towards an expedition of consciousness.” For the December 14 performance, McCarthy and a group of fellow artists “invaded” the National Gallery wearing African masks. They were accompanied by a mobile sound man, who played conscious music the team had selected, and handed out prints of the Regal Zeen preview to patrons at the function. An e-version of the Regal Zeen preview has been posted to the Draconian Switch magazine website and can be reached by scanning the QR Code at the top of this post.
(Photos courtesy of Nicole Smythe-Johnson)
The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programme continues on November 24, 2013, with a full and exciting programme of activities for the day. Doors will open from 11 am to 4 pm.
The programme will start at 11 am with a gallery – based yoga class, titled ‘Yoga and Art in Motion,’ presented by Nadine McNeil (Universal Empress) and inspired by Matthew McCarthy’s Put Dis on Page 2 installation, which was featured in the recently closed New Roots exhibition. A contribution of JA$1000 is required from participants and full proceeds will go to the National Gallery’s outreach programme. Participants should also bring a yoga mat for the class.
The next programme item will be the launch of the latest edition of the Jamaica Journal, Volume 34, No. 3, at 1:30 p.m. The Jamaica Journal is the flagship publication of the Institute of Jamaica and features a range of research and review articles related to history, the arts and science.
The National Gallery of Jamaica is pleased to partner with the Edna Manley College’s 2013 Rex Nettleford Arts Conference by presenting a panel discussion on the critical issues arising from its current New Roots: 10 Emerging Artists exhibition. This panel discussion will take place at the National Gallery on Friday, October 18 from 11 am to 12:30 pm and the panel will consist of Matthew McCarthy, one of the artists in the exhibition, Petrona Morrison, the Director of the Edna Manley College’s School of Visual Arts, and the exhibition curators Veerle Poupeye, O’Neil Lawrence, and Nicole Smythe-Johnson.
New Roots: 10 Emerging Artists, which was recently extended to November 2, 2013, features work by Deborah Anzinger, Varun Baker, Camille Chedda, Gisele Gardner, The Girl and the Magpie, Matthew McCarthy, Olivia McGilchrist, Astro Saulter, Nile Saulter and Ikem Smith who are all under 40 years old and new or relatively new to the Jamaican art world. New Roots was designed to identify and encourage new directions in the Jamaican art world, in keeping with the National Gallery’s mandate to support artistic development and to provide opportunities for young artists. It features are in conventional and new media – painting in various media and on various surfaces, digital photography, video and animation, and jewellery – and a variety of genres and styles, from the documentary to the fantastic. The exhibition reflects marked shifts in artistic and curatorial practice that respond to the current global and local cultural moment, especially with regards to the changing relationship between art work, artist and audience, and it presents new perspectives on art’s potential to foster social transformation in a time of crisis.
Detail of Matthew McCarthy’s interactive Put Dis on Page 2 installation
Admission to the NGJ will be free on October 18 and free guided tours of the New Roots exhibition will be offered before and after the panel discussion. Conference registration is not required to attend this panel discussion. For more on the Rex Nettleford Arts Conference, please click here.
Matthew McCarty – I Took the Liberty of Designing One (2013)
Instead of asking what are people’s roots, we ought to think about what are their routes, the different points by which they have come to be now they are, in a sense, the sum of those differences. That, I think, is a different way of speaking than talking about multiple personalities or multiple identities as if they don’t have any relation to one another or that they are purely intentional. These routes hold us in places, but what they don’t do is hold us in the same place. We need to try to make sense of the connections with where we think we were then as compared to where we are now. That is what biography or the unfolding sense of the self or the stories we tell ourselves or the autobiographies we write are meant to do, to convince ourselves that these are not a series of leaps in the dark that we took, but they did have some logic, though it’s not the logic of time or cause or sequence. But there is a logic of connected meaning.
The New Roots exhibition features 10 emerging artists: Deborah Anzinger, Varun Baker, Camille Chedda, Gisele Gardner, Matthew McCarthy, Olivia McGilchrist, Astro Saulter, Nile Saulter, Ikem Smith and The Girl and the Magpie. These artists were selected by our curatorial team, which was headed by Nicole Smythe-Johnson, O’Neil Lawrence and myself, from our initial shortlist of over 30 artists under 40 years old who were either born in Jamaica or of Jamaican parentage or who are active here. We specifically looked for artists who had started exhibiting only recently, at least in Jamaica, and who had not previously been represented in National Gallery of Jamaica exhibitions of a similar nature, such as our Young Talent series. Final selections were made based on obvious practical considerations, such as the availability of work and feasibility of project proposals, but most of all we looked for work that suggested viable new directions in local contemporary art practice. And we found a lot that interested us: a strong focus on photographic reportage; provocative autobiographic reflections and social interventions; new interrogations of gender and the body; an at times unsparing realism but also a capacity for imaginative visual poetry; experimentation with video projection, animation and interactivity; and a growing disregard for conventional notions about the “art object” and the traditional, segregated artistic disciplines.
The Girl and the Magpie – Sponge (necklace, collection Fragile Jamaica) (2013) – work in progress
Matthew McCarty – I Took the Liberty of Designing One (2013)
Matthew McCarthy is a Jamaica-based illustrator and mural painter who has spent the last five years finding a way to combine his obsession with Jamaican street signs, old school dancehall illustrations and global street art movements. His style and overall message have been influenced by local and global happenings, which fuel his enormous need to formulate satire around interesting topics.
Matthew McCarthy – detail of Put That on Page Two (2013), site-specific installation
Hear oh heavens and give me ear. I have nourished and reared these indigo children and they have rebelled against me.