On Thursday, March 29, 2018, the National Gallery of Jamaica will be hosting a panel discussion entitled Portraits and Abstraction: A Conversation at 1:30 pm. This event will function as a reflection on our most recent exhibitions Explorations V: Portraits in Dialogue and Explorations VI: Engaging Abstraction, which ran from December 19, 2017 to March 25, 2018. The discussion will be moderated by independent writer and curator Nicole Smythe-Johnson and will feature Senior Curator O’Neil Lawrence and Assistant Curator, Monique Barnett-Davidson, curators of the latest installments in the National Gallery’s Explorations exhibition series which was initiated in 2013.
Portraits in Dialogue examined the significance and conflicted politics of artistic portraiture in the development of Jamaican art from the 18th century to the present, looking at issues such as race, class, gender, as well as the ideas about art and the artist that are reflected in the portrait. Engaging Abstraction examined abstraction as a modern image making approach that deviates from the more literal and popularized representational choices practiced by artists from Jamaica, the Caribbean and its Diaspora. The significant impact of abstraction on Jamaican and Caribbean art can seen in our collection which features numerous works of art that qualify as abstract, or at least as abstracted.
The exhibitions presented the foundations of two distinct yet dominant groups of representational choices practiced by artists, choices that can still be observed in contemporary artwork. Whether treated as separate disciplines or hybridized through a plethora of media, contemporary artists essentially make one of the two choices to explore an immense diversity of subject matter which include the social, the corporeal or the philosophical. The curators of the National Gallery of Jamaica have reflected upon these concepts and ideas throughout some of its most recent and successful exhibitions and felt that the next edition of the Explorations series should explore these trends as historical continuities that are evidenced in our national collection.
The public forum Portraits and Abstraction: A Conversation is free and open to the public. Brochures for the exhibitions will be on sale in the National Gallery Gift Shop.
As part of our programming for Black History Month, the National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) will be hosting a special event on Saturday February 17, 2018, at 1:30 pm entitled 21ST Century Kapo. Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds is considered to be Jamaica’s foremost Intuitive artists; and the newly reinstalled gallery features a selection of sculptures and paintings from the Larry Wirth Collection, the John Pringle Collection and the Aaron and the Marjorie Matalon Collection. The works in these galleries showcase the broad subject matter and iconography that Kapo explored and highlight the cultural significance of this artist.
The Kapo Gallery – which is one of only two NGJ galleries that are dedicated to single artists – was reopened on January 28 after being closed for almost a year; 21st Century Kapo will give the public an opportunity to learn more about this artist and engage in a discussion of his legacy and relevance to Jamaicans today.
21ST Century Kapo will feature a special screening of the archival film, Kapo the Artist, which first aired on BBC TWO in 1986. In it Kapo speaks about his life and work as an artist and Revivalist leader, it features commentary by Dr. David Boxer, Professor Rex Nettleford and Ambassador Dudley Thompson among others. The screening will be followed by a short, candid discussion between Dr. Clinton Hutton, Professor of Caribbean Political Philosophy, Culture and Aesthetics (University of the West Indies, Mona) and NGJ Senior Curator, O’Neil Lawrence.
Attendance to 21ST Century Kapo is free of cost and is open to the public. Visitors are being encouraged to view the newly reinstalled galleries prior to the beginning of the discussion.
The closing event for the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Digital exhibition will be a panel discussion and Twitter chat on the possibilities and potential of digital art and its role in redefining contemporary art. This panel discussion will be held at the National Gallery on Saturday, July 2, 2016, starting at 1 pm and will feature four digital artists, Corretta Singer, David Gumbs, Shane McHugh and Danielle Russell. The latter three are are represented in the Digital exhibition.
The panel discussion will be organized around four major discussion points:
- What Makes Digital Art ART? – an exploration of definitions, understandings, commonalities and peculiarities of digital art.
- The Challenge of New Media – a discussion of how material value is treated in or can be ascribed to digital artworks; what are the conventional expectations of the ‘art object’ and how do the media used for digital art challenge these expectations?
- Exposure, Accessibility and Audience Reach – Does digital art afford greater/lesser potential for the aforementioned for the artists/designers as well as the audience? What are the ramifications concerning copyright and other legal protection for the creators of digital artwork?
- Rethinking Patronage – to what extent can the conventions of collecting artwork be applied to digital art? Is there a possibility that the traditional art collector may become marginalized as more artists produce in this way or can the rise in prevalence of digital artwork provide more diverse ways of encouraging varieties of patronage?
The panel discussion will be accompanied by a Twitter chat for members of the audience and persons who are not able to come to the gallery for the event, including some of the artists in the Digital exhibition. All that is required is that they follow the National Gallery of Jamaica’s Twitter account, @natgalleryja and include #NGJDigital in their comments or questions. Participants in the Twitter chat can begin tweeting by 12 noon on the day.
The panel discussion is free and open to the public. Persons in attendance will also have a final opportunity to view the Digital exhibition.