The National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) will open the 2012 National Biennial exhibition to the public on Sunday, December 9 at 11:00 a.m. The Honourable Lisa Hanna, M.P., Minister of Youth and Culture will be the guest speaker.
The 2012 edition of the National Biennial consists of an invited section, to which artists with an already well-established track record are invited by the NGJ to submit work, and a juried section, which is open to all Jamaican artists and all artists living in Jamaica. The works were reviewed and selected by a panel of judges, representative of major stakeholders in the local artistic community.
“This year, eight new artists were added to the invited list, namely: Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, Marvin Bartley, Oneika Russell, Michael Elliott, Michael Thompson, Amy Laskin, Marlon James, Storm Saulter and we are very pleased to note that all new invitees are participating in the exhibition,” said Dr. Veerle Poupeye, Executive Director of the National Gallery.
The 2012 National Biennial features 126 works by 86 artists, of which 50 were invited while the other 36 entered through the jury system. The biennial reflects a healthy diversity of themes, styles and approaches, from the conventional to the experimental and, inevitably, the controversial. It comprises work in a variety of media including: painting, sculpture, collage, illustration, assemblage, installation, ceramics, photography, video, animation, and textiles. To qualify for inclusion in the Biennial – and for this exhibition to be representative of recent developments in Jamaican art – works of art must have been created in the last two years.
“The strong representation of digital photography, illustration and video is noted and welcomed, as these new media are an increasingly important part of the cultural landscape; but it is heartening that there are also many works in more conventional media and genres,” remarked Dr. Poupeye.
The exhibition embraces technical, conceptual and aesthetic diversity and innovation but also honours the traditional and, throughout, adheres to high standards of quality and integrity.
Artists participating in the National Biennial qualify for the prestigious Aaron Matalon Award for the best entry by a single artist and may also be considered for acquisition awards. The 2010 Aaron Matalon Award was won by Laura Facey and her winning work – the mixed installation Plumb Line – is featured on the cover of the 2012 catalogue.
The Biennial also incorporates small tribute exhibitions to artists who have been awarded Musgrave Medals in the past two years and thus the 2011 and 2012 Silver Musgrave Medallists in Art: Omari S. Ra (Silver, 2011); Bryan McFarlane (Silver, 2012), and Ebony G. Patterson (Bronze, 2012) will be honoured.
“At present, the Biennial format is being reviewed, in preparation for its conversion in what we hope will be a multi-site, international Kingston Biennial by 2016,” announced Poupeye. Some modifications have already been made: the definition of “Jamaican artist” was expanded to include artists of Jamaican parentage. This was done in recognition of the significant role played by the Jamaican Diaspora in the development of the Jamaican culture, which is an increasingly diverse and transnational field.
The National Gallery wishes to thank Sherwin-Williams for the generous donation of paints, which facilitated the repainting of its exhibition galleries. The 2012 National Biennial exhibition will be on view until March 9, 2013.