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NGJ to open National Biennial 2012

Veerle Poupeye Executive Director of the National Gallery of Jamaica

The National Gallery of Jamaica, downtown Kingston will unveil the 6th National Biennial on December 9. The 2012 Biennial will feature 126 works by 86 artists. According to Veerle Poupeye, Executive Director of the NGJ the exhibition will be reflective of the state of contemporary Jamaican art.

“I think it will be a biennial with a strong contemporary focus,” Poupeye said. She noted that although there was no specific Jamaica 50 focus in the call for entries, there is a clear sense that the artists are reflecting on the state of the nation. “The level of reflection in the society at this moment in history is evident in the entries,” she said.

The NGJ received approximately 190 works from which they selected 47 to participate in the juried component of the exhibition. The NGJ also invited participation of over 100 artists, fifty of whom accepted the invitation. Invited artists include Storm Saulter, Marlon James, Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, Amy Laskin Marvin Bartley, Oneika Russell, Michael Elliott, and Michael Thompson. The exhibition will also include installations by artists who have received Musgrave medals in the past two years, Omari Ra, Ebony Patterson and Brian McFarlane.

Poupeye explained that the NGJ widened the requirements for participation in the 2012 Biennial which now includes artists of Jamaican parentage who identify themselves as Jamaican, even if they were born off the island. This is one of the first steps toward further widening the concept of the Biennial and the creation of a Kingston Biennial in 2016. The Kingston Biennial will have a Caribbean element and will take place in multiple venues across the city, including public spaces. “It will really take over Kingston in a sense,” Poupeye said.

Poupeye also noted that the NGJ is in the process of planning an exciting roster of activities and will see greater multi-disciplinary events taking place at the gallery. She referred to the inclusion of film screenings, additional meet-the-artist events, book launches and music concerts at the gallery.

The 2012 Biennial closes in March 2013.