Jamaican art spreads warmth in St Petersburg
St Petersburg is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque cities in the world – from its European-inspired architecture, its signature colourful, eclectic-style to its neoclassical and Baroque style to its water corridors, and the art, the city is a feast for the senses.
From its perspectives etched in history to the contemporary creative expressions, art in St Petersburg is vibrant, relevant, and happening. Critically, given the current global crisis, it is reaffirming positive affirmations.
It was at the Saint Petersburg Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design’s international art showcase ‘Around the World: Art without Borders’ that creativity from around the globe converged in the second-largest city in Russia.
Held from February 29 to March 16, 2020, there were numerous events, highlighting facets of the arts, in the mix.
Among them was ‘The World through the Eyes of an Artist’, an interactive exhibition and competition that saw the convergence of the artwork of partner universities of the academy and foreign artists and designers.
Digitalised versions of artwork from Jamaican artists were exhibited alongside their counterparts from Russia, India, Italy, Spain, Armenia, Latvia, and Germany.
“I am sincerely glad that the Jamaican artists took part in the exhibition-competition,” said Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Jamaica Vladimir Vinokurov. “It was a big and prestigious international art event with a cutting-edge approach to the organisation, which made it possible even amid the global pandemic.”
It was a momentous occasion in many aspects for the Jamaican artists, they were first-time participants, and their work was not only appreciated, but they won accolades, too.
“Though the competition was strong, Jamaican art gained due recognition and won several prizes in three different categories,” said Ambassador Vinokurov. “I congratulate Jamaican participants with what we believe to be a great success and a big step towards mutually desirable and beneficial cooperation in the field of fine art.”
The works “South Coast” by Pat Byles, “Sacrifice of Isaac” by Greg Bailey, untitled work by Demar Brackenridge, and “Affection” by Karen Carter were chosen.
The jury of the competition comprised 14 persons (including four foreign jurors), who included Professor Salvo Bitonti, Italy (Salvo Bitonti Direttore, Dean Accademia Albertina delle Belle Arti Torino/Albertina Academy of Fine Arts); Professor Caesar Taboada Varela, Spain (EASD Escola de Arte Ourense, director of European programmes); Professor A. S. Sajjit, India (principal, GCFA, Thrissur); and Naren Bhiku Ram Jain, India (director of Gallery Art Mall, head of the foundation named after Bhiku Ram Jain New Delhi).
The overarching theme of the showcase was to highlight Russia-India friendship through the arts, around which several events were organised.
‘The World through the Eyes of an Artist’ was a focal point, according to the organisers, and they were very impressed with the body of work that was presented. It was a befitting complement to a path-breaking initiative.
Tribute to art
And the romanticism of St Petersburg put that proverbial cherry on top of the icing. It was also a tribute to art and artists of the city.
“Throughout its history, Russia has given birth to renowned artists such as I. Shishkin, I. Repin, M. Vrubell, I. Ayvazovskiy, and many more,” said Aleksei Sazonov, head of the Consular Section at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Jamaica. “Our country has long been known for its strong tradition of academic, decorative, architecture and monumental art, and famous art educational institutions such as the Saint Petersburg Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design.”
The invitation extended to Jamaican artists by the academy was a furthering of the creative cooperation and collaboration between both countries. Artists from the Saint Petersburg Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design, in November 2019, participated in a specially organised Russian art event – Palettes of Harmony – as part of ArtBeats 5 annual showcase by Jamaica-based art initiative Osmosis Caribbean.
Sazonov is confident that these interactions will blossom.
“Seeing how much interest such international art showcases attracts, and knowing the ever-growing demand for sharing experiences between artists, the embassy will surely be supportive of the development of such initiatives in the future,” he said.
As we gingerly wade through the murky waters of the coronavirus pandemic, we are very hopeful that the dawn of normalcy will be upon us, and until we reach there, let us close our eyes and imagine that we are encased in the eggs created by one of St Petersburg’s famous sons, Peter Carl Fabergé, for beauty is always in the eyes of the beholder and imagination does carry us to places.