The violence of the past week should not come as surprise to any here in Jamaica. It is a situation that we might choose not to acknowledge even though it has been staring us in the face and clearly escalating for decades. It is instructive that many of our contemporary artists, especially those featured in the current National Gallery of Jamaica exhibition Young Talent have mirrored these societal concerns in their work.
Jamaica's widening gap between rich and poor and our historical reliance on an underground economy related to drugs has created tensions and led to violence of which artists are all too aware.
Artists such as Michael Elliot, Leasho Johnson, Christopher Irons, Ebony G. Patterson and Peter Rickards are engaging with these issues and the social dislocation that has been a feature of Jamaica's recent past. Irons, Elliot and Rickards although working in the different forms of mixed media assemblage, hyper-realist paintings and slaughter-house imagery, that calls attention to society's ills through an excruciatingly slow and detailed concentration on the nature of violence itself. Their works might be difficult to digest but can they be any more crude and troubling than the images we are seeing currently on a television screens nightly?