NATIONAL GALLERY STAGES WALKING TOUR OF NEW ROOTS ON OCTOBER 31

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The National Gallery of Jamaica is staging another educational event associated with its New Roots: 10 Emerging Artists exhibition, namely a tour of the exhibition with five of the participating artists, namely Deborah Anzinger, Varun Baker, Camille Chedda, Nile Saulter and Ikem Smith, who will each talk about their work. This event is scheduled for Thursday, October 31, starting at 2:30 pm.

New Roots features work in a variety of new and conventional media by 10 artists under 40 years old, Deborah Anzinger, Varun Baker, Camille Chedda, Gisele Gardner, Matthew McCarthy, Olivia McGilchrist, Astro Saulter, Nile Saulter, Ikem Smith, and The Girl and the Magpie. The exhibition samples some of the most dynamic and innovative directions in the Jamaican art world, by artists who are questioning conventional understandings of art and the artist while presenting a socially engaged perspective on contemporary Jamaican society.

Thursday’s artists’ tour of New Roots is free and open to the public. The New Roots: 10 Emerging Artists is closing on November 2, so this event also represents one of the last opportunities to view the exhibition. For more information, see: https://nationalgalleryofjamaica.wordpress.com/tag/new-roots/

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Last Sundays: October 27, 2013, featuring A Hand Full of Dirt and New Roots

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The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programme continues on Sunday, October 27 with a screening of Russell Watson’s feature film, A Hand Full of Dirt (2010). Visitors will also get the opportunity to view the New Roots: 10 Emerging Artists exhibition, which has been extended to November 2. Doors will open from 11 am to 4 pm.

New Roots features work in a variety of new and conventional media by 10 artists under 40 years old, namely Deborah Anzinger, Varun Baker, Camille Chedda, Gisele Gardner, Matthew McCarthy, Olivia McGilchrist, Astro Saulter, Nile Saulter, Ikem Smith, and The Girl and the Magpie.

As a special feature for Sunday, A Hand Full of Dirt will be screened at 1:30 pm. The film tells the story of what happens when each of the men in the Redman family – father, grandson and son – is faced with the choice of securing his own future or repeating the betrayals of the family’s past. Archie Redman is a middle aged man burdened by the weight of an unfulfilled life. He rises reluctantly each day to face a large, empty house, his wife, having left him and his son away at university. Thousands of miles away, Archie’s son Jay faces worries of his own. He is stuck in immigration limbo, essentially penniless in a cold, unforgiving city but unable to legally work until his father pays off his substantial debt with the school. As the year ends and the holiday season arrives, Archie and Jay will find the walls closing in on them. The key to their salvation seems to lie with one man, family patriarch Ben Redman, and his plot of hard–won plantation land.

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2013 Rex Nettleford Arts Conference: Panel Discussion on New Roots @ Friday, October 18

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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.

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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.

New Roots: Petrona Morrison’s Opening Remarks

Matthew McCarty - I Took the Liberty of Designing One (2013)

Matthew McCarty – I Took the Liberty of Designing One (2013)

We are pleased to present the opening remarks delivered by Petrona at the opening of New Roots: 10 Emerging Artists on July 28, 2013.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to share some observations on what is an exciting and challenging exhibition.  This exhibition is significant in a number of ways. The National Gallery has had a long history of providing opportunities for artists to show work which challenge prevailing ideas and reflect new thinking, as seen in the Young Talent exhibitions. This exhibition, however, is groundbreaking in that it presents bodies of work which do not have the curatorial framing based on chronology, and presents the body of work on its own terms. This is the realisation of the concept of the “project space” which allows artists to present proposals for recent work, and allows us to focus on their ideas in a given space.

Varun Baker - Journey (2012), digital photograph

Varun Baker – Journey (2012), digital photograph

The exhibition reveals some interesting developments taking place in contemporary Jamaican Art. Taken as a whole, there is a prevailing denial of traditional notions of the “art object”. The space in which we are now located cannot be bought, collected or sold.  The site-specific work of Matthew McCarthy and the New Jamaica collective is defiant in its emphasis on collective engagement, and forces the audience to re-evaluate their ideas about “art” in the museum space.  What we see in this exhibition are investigations with a diverse range of media which challenge the hierarchies of the singular precious “object”, and do not privilege one form or media over another. The site-specific installations, video installation, photo-based work and animation sit beside painting and collage, each presented on its own terms. Continue reading

Last Sundays, September 29, 2013: New Roots and Shady Squad

NGJ_Sunday_Opening_29_September_2013_2-01The National Gallery of Jamaica’s Last Sundays programme for September is scheduled for Sunday, September 29, 2013, from 11 am to 4 pm.

Visitors will have the opportunity to view New Roots: 10 Emerging Jamaican Artists and the permanent galleries will also be open. New Roots features work in a variety of new and conventional media by 10 artists under 40 years old, namely Deborah Anzinger, Varun Baker, Camille Chedda, Gisele Gardner, Matthew McCarthy, Olivia McGilchrist, Astro Saulter, Nile Saulter, Ikem Smith, and The Girl and the Magpie. The exhibition samples some of the most dynamic and innovative directions in the Jamaican art world, by artists who are questioning conventional understandings of art and the artist while presenting a socially engaged perspective on contemporary Jamaican society.

The featured performance on Sunday, September 29 will be by Shady Squad. The brothers Matthew and Conroy Richards, who are the Shady Squad leads, will be performing a duet, dancehall style, and their performance will start at 1:30 pm. The internationally acclaimed Shady Squad has won several major dance competitions, including the 2010 and 2011 World Reggae Dance award and they placed second in the inaugural season of Dancin’ Dynamites in 2006.

As is now customary, admission to the NGJ will be free on Sunday, September 29 and free guided tours and gallery-based children’s activities will be offered. The gift and coffee shop will be open for business and contributions to the donations box are welcomed. Revenues from our shops and donations help to fund programmes such as the New Roots exhibition and our Last Sundays programming.

New Roots: An Invitation to Dialogue

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The Girl and the Magpie – installation view

We at the NGJ are committed to fostering critical dialogue and our exhibitions are designed to do just that. The current New Roots: 10 Emerging Artists exhibition is a perfect example and it has already elicited a variety of responses, informal and in writing – we welcome both. This morning we received the following comment from a George Blackwell to one of our posts on the exhibition:

The New Roots Exhibition at the National Gallery of Jamaica is interesting to take note of for several reasons. Firstly, ‘New Roots’, as the title suggests, betrays a desperate bid to get away from any serious discourse that foregrounds the black as the essential constituent in local identity matters. Therefore, the exhibition is insipidly curated to avoid this discussion.

Secondly, new routes are not really new. Videos, installations, animations and graffiti art have had enduring presence in Jamaican art. Nor are the directions and messages of the respective artists new. What is new, however, is the irrational extent to which the curators have gone to scrape the barrel to find people who have no skills or claims to the art making process regardless of the media or medium they choose to work with.

The short film by Saulter suffers from a lack of interesting camera angles and a powerful metaphor has been sacrificed to a gruffly overdone gabble posing as narrative. The other videos are for the most part jejune, the entertainment value and cultural schmaltz become part of the naked technological seduction, while artistic endeavor is absent.

Nile Saulter - Pillowman (2013), video still

Nile Saulter – Pillowman (2013), video still

Nor is the graffiti display new. What is new about it is that though most graffiti works display a competent level of intellectual finesse in their political charge and their artistic ambitions, in McCarthy’s case, one would have to dig deep into the dense layer of clichés to find any smidgen of such. This he compensated for by his PR teamwork and media savvy.

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