Tue | Jan 15, 2019

Shaun Reid: artist on the rise

Published:Sunday | April 12, 2015 | 12:00 AMKeisha Hill
A bunch of refreshment.
Irish town, St Andrew.
Spanish bridge.
Self-portrait, 'Refreshment'.
Golden Eye in Oracabessa before development.
Early birds.
Hope Bay, Portland.

What do you see when you look at a river? Imagine for a minute living near to a river and capturing this magnificent work of art in vibrant, rich colours that leap off the canvas as young children would play and frolic as the crystal clear water often makes its way downstream.

Shaun Reid, as a young artist, has sought to capture this cascading and creative masterpiece as he recalls his youthful days playing with his friends in the river near his home in St Mary. His works are being likened to master painters by visitors to Jamaica, intertwining colourful and dynamic portrayals of landscapes while flirting with abstracts from his earlier years.

His artistic journey began when he was as young as five years old when he began drawing from colouring books, comic strips, and fairy-tale books. His fascination led him further to drawing and painting on the walls of his home, for which he was duly reprimanded.

Born in the parish of St Ann and growing up in the neighbouring parish of St Mary, the self-taught artist seems destined for a world of fame as he is committed to mastering his skills. Reid was never formally taught beyond his introduction to art during his sojourn at the Oracabessa High School, and even after this stage, he wasn't very interested in it as a career.

Art as a career

"When I left high school, I never thought it was something I could do for a living. Actually, I put it down for a while and tried my hand at other things like carpentry, trucking and even cooking," Reid said. However, Reid started painting again 11 years ago, and was heavily influenced by the works of Jamaican master painter Barrington Watson and international masters Michelangelo, David Kassan, and Leonardo da Vinci.

Two years later, he won a gold medal in the amateur category of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) arts festival, with persons commenting that his work was just as good as other professional artists. "I paint because it brings a level of calmness, and that is the time I meditate. Basically, I am just experimenting with nature's diversity around Jamaica. I paint for others and myself and if it does not appeal to me in any way, I won't be comfortable," he said.

He used the momentum from winning the JCDC competition as motivation to continue with his professional art career and, since then, his work has been shown in a number of galleries across the island. "I have participated in numerous group shows and auctions locally and internationally. Over the years, my work has evolved into my own signature style. My critics and enthusiasts easily identify my work where I can be considered as one of Jamaica's most promising young artists," Reid said.

Reid is not deterred by the current economic climate, despite the poignant issues that face Jamaican artists, including adequate recognition for their work. "Art in Jamaica is not a necessity, and people will take care of their necessities first before they will purchase any artwork. The market is small and limited and I do not think Jamaican art students are educated enough about marketing their craft," Reid said.

"I learnt the hard way. I was totally oblivious to what is going on out there. When you are a young person in the business, people will exploit you. Jamaicans also have a tendency not to respect a Jamaican artist if he or she has not studied overseas," he added.

Reid uses acrylics over oils, not because oils do not fascinate him and deliver, but because they dry quickly. He is currently working on a series of paintings that will focus on the recent atrocities against women and children in Jamaica. Having never done a solo exhibition, he is also focused on working on pieces that will be used in his first solo showing.