Canadian mega rapper, record producer, DJ, and record executive Kardinal Offishall doesn’t consider himself an authority on fine art. But he knows what he likes, and loves the paintings and photographs he just saw at the PAMA public gallery in downtown Brampton.
“I am not a regular connoisseur of fine visual arts-but these works were my cup of tea and spoke to me on an artistic, social and cultural level,” said Offishall after touring the brand new exhibit when night stirred at sea: Contemporary Caribbean Art. “I felt right at home and understood and had a connection to every single piece.”
Late last week PAMA – the Peel Archives, Museum and Art Gallery – opened an exhibition what could well be a first in Ontario. Their new show is the first exhibition featuring contemporary Caribbean art to hang in a major public gallery.
“when night stirred at sea: Contemporary Caribbean Art” is a show comprised of works by ten English Caribbean artists working in Jamaica, Trinidad, Canada, America and England. These are artists who are creating cutting edge creative works that are, in the words of Offishall, “super dope”!
“I felt right at home and understood and had a connection to every single piece,” posted Offishall on his popular Facebook page.
Toronto based Karen Carter and Greg Manuel curated the exhibition. Never seen in Canada before, the show actually has its roots in the inaugural CArt (Caribbean Art) Fair that was organized and curated by Ms. Carter earlier this year in Mandeville, Jamaica.
“To be able to bring some of the artists together for a second time and to a broader international audience at PAMA is wonderful and in keeping with the mandate of CArt to connect Caribbean artists to the broader art world,” said Ms. Carter. “To be able to do so at this particular moment in history adds yet another significant layer to our belief of the important role artists play in our understanding of the human condition.”
The paintings, fabric art and photographs hanging in the gallery are as contemporary as the headlines in our newspaper. Virus isolation. Community policing. Powerful portraits of Caribbean men and women. This is something that will strongly resonate with a Caribbean Canadian audience.
The artists featured in this show are all connected to the English Caribbean islands. Their works explore themes of identity, community, colonization, globalization, social justice, activism and climate change. The exhibition provides a small window into the complex beauty and inherent tensions of Caribbean cultural identity that connect this region and the larger Caribbean diaspora to the world.
The show officially opened on Friday and will run well into the New Year. Because of the corona virus it is currently a virtual exhibition. when night stirred at sea: Contemporary Caribbean Art will be open to the walk-in visitors, probably on a timed basis once PAMA re-opens to the public.
Kardinal Offishall was one of a special few invited influencers and journalists who donned masks and previewed the art show in ones and twos over three-days. One Caribbean Television, the Toronto Star, the Brampton Guardian, and many other outlets have covered this first exhibition of Contemporary Caribbean art.
Art lovers who are planning to see this exhibition (once restrictions are relaxed) will have no trouble finding PAMA – just look for the shirtless man standing under a white shroud. Four 10 metre tall banners have been made from the works of Janice Reid (Jamaican/Canadian, Brampton-based) and hang-outside the gallery at the corner of Main and Wellington Street East.