An impassioned Wayne Chen, CEO of Super Plus, who conceptualised the Under-40 Artist of the Year competition in 2001, has spoken of the endless potential of art and of his vision for the growth of the industry in Jamaica.
The Super Plus boss admitted the market was soft at the moment, but said the time had come for Jamaica to tap into what is a huge business worldwide as a way of boosting, not only the art landscape, but also of recognising that "art has a role to play in our economic development".
His proposition includes the establishing of urban centres of art and the enhancement of existing attractions, similar to Culture Yard in Trench Town, which would host art exhibitions.
These, he said, were popular attractions in Europe and other parts of the world and would have tremendous spin-offs for tourist arrivals, employment, and the artists themselves.
He continued to maintain that "our artists don't need charity, they need support".
Chen's statements came at the end of the competition recently where Mutual Gallery and Art Centre director/curator Gilou Bauer described Olivia McGilchrist, the dimunitive visual artist, as "likkle but tallawah".
McGilchrist had just walked away with the Jury Prize and the title of 2012 Super Plus Under-40 Artist of the Year.
Pit against painter/ceramist Leasho Johnson and visual artists, the impressive Marvin Bartley and Berette Macaulay, McGilchrist beat out the field on the strength of her "originality of thought" and thorough research, with her Sudden White installation.
Speaking at the gallery on Oxford Road in St Andrew where the announcement was made, judge Claudia Hucke said the five-man panel was "very impressed" with the showing by the artists, whose work she said rivalled those on the international scene.
The panel was completed by chief judge Dr David Boxer, chief curator at the National Gallery of Jamaica; Tina Spiro, artist and lecturer at Saana; Omari Ra, head of the Visual Arts Department at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMC); and Bauer.
Hucke, an art historian and lecturer at the EMC, noted the affinity for photography by the artists and used the opportunity to challenge prospective entrants. "We want to see more painters in the competition," she said.
Johnson, who fused ceramics and painting in his contradiction-filled 'Church in Session' installation, was named most improved artist by the judges while Bartley's love for the "old masters", exemplified in his reincarnated Greek mythology 'Untitled' photography, found favour with the voting public in copping for him the Public Prize. That, though, was not enough for the judges, who determined that the works were "not original", costing him critical points.
For her part, the judges felt Macaulay's overindulged in photo-transfer images in light boxes, spawning monotony for her ReKon: 'Differenzierte Moglichkeit'.
A gracious McGilchrist, who earned her first solo exhibition and $100,000 in prize money, said she had already begun work on additional pieces for her next show while Public Prize winner Bartley saw the win as an "opportunity".
- Robyn Miller