The Jamaica Biennial Returns This Weekend


A report by Shereitza Grizzle for Jamaica’s Gleaner.

The event which was last held in 2014 was supposed to be held last December, but was pushed to February of this year because of some internal decisions, according to Dr Veerle Poupeye, executive director of the National Gallery of Jamaica.

“We shifted it into the uneven year. We moved it down two months because we were trying out new timelines, trying to find new ways to align it with the international arts calendar,” she explained. “We wanted to get a feel of whether this would be a better date to open it in the future. We will do an evaluation to see how this timeline has worked, and then we will make a decision as to what will be the permanent opening time of the biennial going forward.”

She also explained that this year’s exhibition would have three openings – one on Friday at the National Gallery West in Montego Bay at 7 p.m., a private, invitation-only opening on Saturday at Devon House, and the main opening on Sunday at the National Gallery in downtown Kingston. The latter will be free to the public. Minister of Culture, Entertainment, Gender and Sport Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange is expected to be the keynote speaker at that event, which is set to get under way at 11 a.m.


Expecting to return with a bang, Poupeye told The Gleaner that the biennial will be an exhibition of the highest quality and will boast artwork from some of the most outstanding individuals, local and international. The exhibition has four components: special projects by international invitees; what was selected from submissions and contributions by the artists who have invited status (the latter two sections include artists who are born or based in Jamaica and artists of Jamaican descent who live elsewhere) as well as tribute exhibitions to two noted Jamaican artists. This year, those two artists are Alexander Cooper and the late Peter Dean Rickards.

More than 160 works of art by more than 90 artists will be on display, including pieces from the likes of Storm Saulter, Marlon James, Samere Tansley, Laura Facey, David Boxer, Deborah Anzinger, Prudence Lovell, and many more.

Over the years, the Jamaica Biennial has provided a dynamic and diverse overview of current art from Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean. Art work of all types have been displayed at these events, including painting, sculpture, ceramics, textile and fibre art, photography, installation and new media. The Jamaica Biennial 2017 is part of the National Gallery’s recent efforts to give its exhibitions and Jamaican art greater international visibility.

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