The National Gallery of Jamaica presents Young Talent 2015, an exhibition featuring ten artists living in and from Jamaica, under forty 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. The exhibition will open on Sunday, August 30, 2015 and will be on view at the National Gallery at 12 Ocean Boulevard in Kingston, Jamaica, until November 14, 2015. [Many thanks to Veerle Poupeye for bringing this item to our attention.]
The first Young Talent exhibition was held in 1985, as part of JAMFEST 85, when Jamaica hosted the International Youth Conference. Young Talent 85 featured eleven young artists, including Basil Watson, Omari Ra, Khalfani Ra, and Petrine Archer-Straw. As part of the National Gallery’s strategies to uncover and support new developments of Jamaican art, Young Talent exhibitions have been organized intermittently since then, in 1989, 1995, 2002, and most recently in 2010, and many well-known contemporary Jamaican artists had their first major exhibition as part of the Young Talent series. Young Talent V in 2010 was particularly ground-breaking and launched a new generation of artists who have since revolutionized the Jamaican art landscape, such as Ebony G. Patterson, Phillip Thomas, Leasho Johnson and Oneika Russell. The National Gallery has also staged the New Roots exhibition in 2013, which was treated as a spin-off from the Young Talent series and featured artists such as Matthew McCarthy, Olivia McGilchrist, Camille Chedda, and Deborah Anzinger.
To support what is presently an exceptionally energetic and innovative contemporary art scene in Jamaica, the National Gallery now intends to present Young Talent exhibitions every two years, in the years alternating with the Jamaica Biennial. For the present exhibition, Young Talent 2015, the National Gallery opened the selection process with a call for submissions and entries were received from thirty-five artists, from which ten were selected. While most of the selected artists already have an exhibition record, Howard Myrie, Avagay Osborne, and Domanie Hong have just graduated from the Edna Manley College, which continues to be the main engine for development and innovation in Jamaican art.
Young Talent 2015 includes a healthy range of artistic media and practices, including new and more traditional media, including GIF collages, fibre-based work and representational painting, which coexist productively as part of Jamaica’s emerging contemporary art language. While some of it is also deeply personal, most of the work selected for Young Talent 2015 is explicitly or implicitly political—tackling challenging subjects such as gender violence, social dysfunction, power and marginalization, the politics of the body, and displacement and forced migration—and reflects the complex and unsettling cultural and political events and debates that shape the “post-postcolonial” world. One striking feature of the exhibition is the artists’ engagement with the materiality of their work, which is mined judiciously for its visual poetry and political implications. The result is a compelling and though-provoking exhibition, which should produce healthy debate about current artistic and cultural trends and about the broader social and political questions raised.
The August 30 opening function of Young Talent 2015 is presented as part of the National Gallery’s Last Sundays programme, with doors open from 11 am to 4 pm and the opening function at 1:30 pm. There will be no guest speaker and instead we will be screening a short video documentary on the participating artists. This will be followed by a musical performance by Jah9. As is customary, the event is free and open to the public but donations are welcomed, as these play an important role in funding projects such as Last Sundays and exhibitions such as Young Talent 2015.
[Image above: “Overly Utopian Dreams” by Di-Andre Caprice Davis.]