INTRODUCTION

 

I recall drawing as a constant obsession throughout my childhood. My later interest in painting was focused by an early introduction to the history of painting. As a  teenager I would visit reference libraries - hunting for books on art and poetry.

I remember  tomes on the High Renaissance and the Baroque; and being immediately struck by the  force and sensuality of the images. Titian and Caravaggio were especially transcendent for me- the violent compositions, the immediacy of expression, and of course, the "mystery" of oil paint. But method was just a minor part of the fascination. I think that my interest in the Masters has always been “psychological”- that what is called the “unconscious” by Freud or the “numinous” by others is often powerfully embodied in these images. Look at late Titian- here was a man, (a devout Catholic ?) whose depictions of flesh and interpretations of classical myth and religious allegory; give reign to the darkest and most ‘licentious’ imperatives of the body. I believe that it is this tension between what a human being is- at its primordial core, and the artificiality forced upon it by the dictates of civilization that inspires the archetypal  concerns of art.                 


​I went on to study painting at the Edna Manley College of the Visual Arts in Kingston, graduating in 2001. I was then invited  to intern with the curatorial department of the National Gallery of Jamaica. During this period I maintained a studio in the notoriously crime ridden precincts of downtown Kingston. I worked at night- as the main business district of the capital was being abandoned  for the "safety" of St. Andrew. My days at the Gallery helped me to expand my understanding of the history of Jamaican and Caribbean art. Later I would begin to confront the broader developments of contemporary art.


In 2001 the international art world was ablaze with the antics of the YBAs (Young British Artists). I was more interested in the painted corporeality of Francis Bacon, than any installation showcasing actual rotting flesh. Despite my “traditional” influences, my paintings were not traditionally painted- the approach was more pared down, more minimal. I couldn’t identify totally with the traditionalists and I was utterly bored by the conceptual work that was being hyped by the magazines and the museums. I found my path slowly by plunging into the past and by exploring the obscure recesses of my imagination. I went back to the old masters with a scalpel- excised what I required, and jettisoned the dross. I then looked around at the many important photographers and filmmakers who continue to do innovative and yet deeply poignant things with images- artists like Joel Peter-Witkin or David Lynch.
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In 2002 I was invited to participate in "Young Talent 2002" at the National Gallery of Jamaica. My work was well received and I have continued to exhibit in Jamaica, the Caribbean and the UK. In 2011, I completed an extended residency in downtown Kingston. The historic heart of the city is now the epicenter of an urban re-invigoration campaign- where a number of disused commercial spaces are being transformed into contemporary art venues.


Site by Khary Darby 2016