The 2017 Jamaica Biennial Will Showcase Local Artists

Organized by the National Gallery of Jamaica, it opens at the end of February.

Devon House, one of the venues hosting the Jamaica Biennial. Courtesy Devon House Jamaica

The National Gallery of Jamaica will open the 2017 Jamaica Biennial at the end of February, with a focus on local and Caribbean artists. The event, which first took place in 1977, has been put together featuring only Jamaican artists and artists from the Jamaican Diaspora, with some special guests from other parts of the Caribbean included by invitation.

Taking place in Kingston, venues for the biennial will be the National Gallery, which sits on the waterfront; the National Gallery West, its branch in Montego Bay; and the three-story mansion and heritage site, Devon House.

The exhibition runs from February 28 to May 28 of this year, and will include 35 invited Jamaican artists including Margaret Chen and David Boxer; 49 selected Jamaican artists including Jenny Gordon, Kimani Beckford, and The Girl and the Magpie; and 7 special projects commissioned from artists from the Caribbean or with Caribbean heritage, including Andrea Chung and Marcel Pinas.

Kingston-based art historian and curator Dr. Veerle Poupeye is the head of the curatorial team for the exhibition.

“Part invitational and part juried, the Biennial is a very inclusive exhibition which brings into dialogue work in traditional and new media and established and emerging artists from Maria Magdelena Campos-Pons’ reflections to recent art school graduates such as Kelly-Ann Lindo,” said Dr. Poupeye in a statement.

In terms of a connecting theme for the artists showing in the biennial, Poupeye asks only that they respond to the moment.

“There is no imposed theme but for each edition, certain shared themes come to the fore that reflect the concerns of the present moment, such as the politics of race, hair, migration, violence, human rights, and climate change,” she explains.

There will also be tributes to local artists Alexander Cooper and Peter Dean Rickards, and two awards will be presented to artists: The Aaron Matalon Award for the best entry, and the Dawn Scott Memorial Award, the initiative of art critic Edward Gomez, which will be presented to a young or emerging artist whose work embodies the spirit of late Jamaican contemporary artist Dawn Scott.

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