You are here

Superplus Under 40 Artist 2012 Competion Opens

(l-r) Leasho Johnson, Marvin Bartley & Olivia McGilchrist

Kingston, Jamaica: The Mutual Gallery and Art Centre, Oxford Road, was filled to capacity on Thursday night when the 2012 Superplus Under 40 Artist of the Year competition and exhibition was unveiled. There was hardly space to maneuver within the small gallery as audience vied to see the installations of works by photographers Olivia McGilchrist, Berette McCaulay, and Marvin Bartley and, the sole painter of the quartet, Leasho Johnson,.

“I’m glad to see that 13 years later we are close to realizing our dream of public anticipation and public demand for contemporary art,” said Wayne Chen, the main sponsor  of the competition. The four artists are competing for two prizes, a public prize (J$50,000.00) and an jury prize (J$100,000.00).

Berette Macaulay and Wayne ChenGallery director and curator Gilou Bauer explained that a long-list of eight artists was created from the gamut of under-40 contemporary artists from which the short-list of four was selected. She pointed out that it is always interesting to see where the public’s vote and the jury vote diverge, noting that only twice in the competition’s 12 year history has both prizes been won by a single artist.

Bauer also explained that being on the Superplus Under 40 Artist of the Year shortlist can be a significant triumph for an upcoming artist. Additionally, the winner of the competition is given a solo exhibition at the Mutual Gallery the following year, and receives an additional J$50,000 to contribute to staging the exhibition.

The four finalists made brief statements about their work, but in the main wanted the pieces to speak for themselves.

“I’m actually overwhelmed,” Bartley said. “I never expected so many people so anything I planned to say, I’ve forgotten.”

Nonetheless, he explained that his provocative photographs are reflective of his interest in politics, religion and history. “Those three things are some of the things that drive what I do,” he said. “I just make statements.”
McGilchrist, shares Jamaican and French ancestry noted that the best part of being in the exhibition was getting to work with her fellow competitors.

“I just want you to ask yourselves what it means to be Jamaican and to live in Jamaica right now,” said McGilchrist whose installation is a combination of photography and moving images. Her work is infused with dance, the Jamaican landscape and McGilchrist also places herself in the photographs.

Johnson explained that his installation, titled ‘Church is in Session’ explored the paradoxes of the dancehall where the secular and the sacred often meet. “It’s about really those contradictions that come into play in Jamaican culture,” he said.
Marvin Bartley's photograph 'Birth of Venus' makes a striking 'backdrop'
Macaulay also delivered a brief overview of her work. “It’s about going through the things you need to go through to be the person you have to be,” she said.

The 2012 Superplus Under 40 Artist of the year will be selected on November 19.