The exhibition We Have Met Before: Graham Fagen, Joscelyn Gardner, Leasho Johnson and Ingrid Pollard, a collaboration between the National Gallery of Jamaica and the British Council, is accompanied by an e-catalogue publication. This publication was edited by Melanie Archer and was designed by Kriston Chen. It contains commissioned essays by Tiffany Boyle and Shani Roper, along with forewords by Olayinka Jacobs-Bonnick, Annalee Davis and Juliet Dean, and Veerle Poupeye and O’Neil Lawrence. The We Have Met Before e-catalogue can be found here. The exhibition opens tonight at 6:30 pm and continues until November 4, 2017.
Leasho Johnson was born in St James, Jamaica, in 1984. He attended the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, where he obtained a BFA in Visual Communication in 2009. He is a founding member of the Dirty Crayons collective, which held local group exhibitions in 2012 and 2013. Johnson’s other exhibitions include Young Talent V (2010, National Gallery of Jamaica); Jamaican Pulse: Art and Politics from Jamaica and the Diaspora (2016, Bristol, United Kingdom); and the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Biennials since 2010. He has also participated in a number of artist residencies. In 2016, he participated in an artists’ residency at Bluecoat, a contemporary arts centre in Liverpool, United Kingdom, and he was awarded a residency at Residency Unlimited in New York City by the Davidoff Art Initiative. Johnson works in various media to explore the tensions and contestations in Jamaican culture and society, particularly in dancehall and its associated tropes. He resides in Kingston, Jamaica.
About the Work
Leasho Johnson is the youngest artist in We Have Met Before and presents a visually and conceptually explosive mix of history and contemporary popular culture, with strong references to Dancehall and graffiti. Like the other three artists, he often uses historical source material – visual material in his case – but forces this into a dialogue with a repertoire of cartoon-like female and gender-ambivalent figures in various provocative poses, other recurrent characters such as fighting and copulating dogs, and sexual metaphors such as bananas, sugar cane, palm trees and fish. In some of his recent work, drowned bodies with provocatively placed palm tree extensions become sexualized tropical islands, reminiscent of the violent histories of the Caribbean archipelago. Johnson examines the politics of sexual objectification and the contradictions of gender and sexuality in contemporary Jamaican culture and not only points to the roots of these issues in the histories of colonization, slavery, exploitation and social inequality, but also acknowledges their revolutionary potential in the present as an agent of social change.
Leasho Johnson website: www.leasho.com
The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programme for September 24, 2017 will feature the Quilt Performing Arts Company. Visitors will also be able to view the We Have Met Before and the Annabella and Peter Proudlock Collection exhibitions.
The Quilt Performing Arts Company was born out of a need for a fresh, new, innovative way of creating performance art. Using Caribbean rhythms, merging poetry, music and dance, the Quilt performers have developed their own unique performance style and an evolving theatre technique. Artistic director Rayon Mclean and his team continue break boundaries and redefine performance spaces, and this time the women in the company will be quilting from their heART through music, poetry and dance. The show is called #POW- Patches of Women. This is Quilt’s third time at the National Gallery. Continue reading
We Have Met Before opens at the National Gallery of Jamaica on September 22 and is staged in partnership with the British Council. The exhibition features Graham Fagen (Scotland), Joscelyn Gardner (Barbados/Canada), Ingrid Pollard (Guyana/UK), and Leasho Johnson (Jamaica) and revisits the challenging but important subject of trans-Atlantic slavery and its afterlives in the contemporary world, interpreted by four artists with distinctive perspectives.
As part of the accompanying programmes for We Have Met Before, the National Gallery of the Jamaica and the British Council will present a panel discussion on the issues raised by the exhibition on Saturday, September 23, starting at 1:30 pm. The panel will consist of three of the artists in the exhibition, Graham Fagen, Joscelyn Gardner and Ingrid Pollard, while Deborah Anzinger will speak about Leasho Johnson’s work. The panel will be moderated by Shani Roper, acting Director/Curator of Liberty Hall, the Legacy of Marcus Garvey.
The panel discussion, which will take place at the National Gallery of Jamaica, is free and open to the public and those in attendance will also have the opportunity to view the exhibition, which continues until November 4, 2017.
We have met before. Four centuries separate our first meeting when Prospero was graced with the role of thief, merchant and man of God. Our hero was ‘the right worshipfull and valiant night Sir John Haukins, sometimes treasurer of her Majesties navie Roial’; and it is his first Voyage in search of human merchandise.
George Lamming – The Pleasures of Exile (1960)
We Have Met Before, which will be on view at the NGJ from September 22 to November 4, reflects on the question of historical forgetfulness and the capacity of art to unearth and to shed new light on what is forgotten or supressed. The four artists—Graham Fagen from Scotland, Joscelyn Gardner from Barbados and Canada, Leasho Johnson from Jamaica and Ingrid Pollard from Guyana and England— and the works selected for this exhibition represent a conversation on the histories of Slavery, the Transatlantic trade, and its present-day implications. Each artist brings a distinctive perspective to this subject area, with work that was created in different locales, different media, from different experiences, and at different points in time.
These subjects are of course not new and commonly appear in modern and contemporary art from the Caribbean and its Diaspora, as well as in other art forms such as dance, drama, literature and music. In Jamaica, the subjects hold a central position in Garvey and Rastafari culture, which has produced a recognizable African Zionist iconography that is prominent in the popular visual culture and the visual arts. The histories of slavery have been very contentious as a subject area in Caribbean art and this is particularly pronounced in public art, as was best illustrated by the intense controversy about Laura Facey’s Redemption Song (2003), Jamaica’s de facto Emancipation monument. This controversy raised many questions about the representational choices and the equally contentious issue of who can legitimately speak about this subject.
We Have Met Before revisits this complex and contentious territory, and acknowledges that much has been suppressed and left unsaid, especially by the former colonizers. The exhibition argues that the subject area needs to be approached as part of an ongoing conversation, in which there is no final word and in which it must be possible for various perspectives to be expressed. The resulting conversations may be difficult but they are necessary, as they are central to the histories that have shaped and continue to shape the contemporary Caribbean world, and it is hoped that this exhibition will contribute to this process. Continue reading
The National Gallery of Jamaica in partnership with the British Council will be hosting an art exhibition from September 22-November 4, 2017. The show is entitled: We Have Met Before and features Graham Fagen, Joscelyn Gardner, Ingrid Pollard, and Leasho Johnson.
This exhibition revisits the challenging subject of trans-Atlantic slavery and its afterlives in the contemporary world, seen through the eyes of four contemporary artists. Each artist brings a distinctive perspective with work that was created in different locales, different media, and at different points in time.