Sat | Apr 29, 2017

'Young Talent’ highlights social messages

Published:Sunday | August 30, 2015 | 8:00 AM
‘Recruits’ by Greg Bailey.
‘No Blue Skies in the Land of Sunshine’ by Greg Bailey.
Untitled piece by Howard Myrie.
Untitled piece by Avagay Osborne.
‘You know we can’t swim right?’ by Cosmo Whyte.
Untitled piece by Avagay Osborne.
Amitabh Sharma
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There are messages, some profound, others hard hitting, yet, some are subtle and there are media in all their forms and in perceivable dimensions - this is the collection of the thoughts of young artists who are making statements and speaking their minds.

These are a part of Young Talent 2015, which takes centre stage at the National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) beginning today, August 30.

"Young Talent 2015 includes a healthy range of artistic media and practices," said Dr Veerle Poupeye, executive director, NGJ.

Young Talent 2015, showcases works of 10 artists living in, or are from, Jamaica and who are under 40 years old - Greg Bailey, Alicia Brown, Katrina Coombs, Di-Andre Caprice Davis, Monique Gilpin, Domanie Hong, Howard Myrie, Richard Nattoo, Avagay Osborne, and Cosmo Whyte.

"While most of these artists already have an exhibition record, Myrie, Osborne, and Hong have just graduated from the Edna Manley College," she said.

Their works range from digital media, photographs, photo-based prints, and psychedelic GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) collages to representational paintings, new textile and fibre work to drawing and watercolour. And each has a story to tell.

These stories, according to Poupeye, are an amalgamation of understanding and interpreting of contemporary issues, and political and social dynamics.

"The sensibilities reflect a continued willingness to embrace the new uncertainties and fragilities of the contemporary world," she said. "While most of the work is deeply political and engages with the complex and unsettling cultural and political dynamics, though in a subtle tone.

"Young Talent 2015," she continued, "presents a compelling body of work that illustrates the continued vitality of contemporary art in and from Jamaica, which engages the audience aesthetically, culturally and politically."

Messages divulged through their creative expressions by these young artists - mounted on the walls, placed on pedestals and some in diffusion of light and colours - also touch on taboo subjects like sexual abuse and homophobia.

"The semi-erased drawings by Cosmo Whyte, for instance, evoke painful histories of displacement and racial injustice," Poupeye said. "These have acute resonance in the context of current events such as the Haitian crisis in the Dominican Republic." On the other hand, she said, the deceptively playful, colourful textile applique's by Avagay Osborne speak, at times defiantly, about overcoming personal abuse and trauma.

"This reflects a continued willingness on the part of the artists to contribute to the social debates that shape the present moment," she added.

Scientist Albert Einstein once said, "I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious." The latter part of his statement would encapsulate the theme of the displayed work in this exhibition.

CHOICEOFMEDIA

The choice of media by the artists, according to the executive director of NGJ, is an evident confluence of visual poetry highlighting political implications.

"The result is compelling and thought-provoking and should produce healthy debate about current artistic and cultural trends," she said.

The National Gallery of Jamaica's first Young Talent exhibition was held in 1985, and has been showcased in 1989, 1995, 2002 and 2010.

"In 2013, we staged New Roots, which featured new artists, and which we regarded as a spin-off from the Young Talent series," Poupeye said.

She said that New Roots opened the doors for NGJ to focus on showcasing young artists' works more regularly, and to open the doors for a wide spectrum of artists, there was no limiting thematic constructs during the selection process of Young Talent 2015. This approach, she said, has brought vibrant and intriguing works to the fold.

"Every child is an artist," said Pablo Picasso. "The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." Young Talent 2015 is a showcase of works of such artists who's inner child has evolved and continues to grow.

amitabh.sharma@hotmail.com