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Artbeats: a potpourri of Jamaican culture

Published:Wednesday | November 27, 2019 | 12:25 AMMarcia Rowe/Gleaner Writer
Manuel Lopez Gonzales, second secretary in the Embassy of Mexico in Jamaica, performs at ArtBeats’ fifth annual fine arts showcase at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Sunday, November 24.
Manuel Lopez Gonzales, second secretary in the Embassy of Mexico in Jamaica, performs at ArtBeats’ fifth annual fine arts showcase at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel on Sunday, November 24.

It was an opportunity to escape into the world of two art forms – the performing and the visual – strolling through colours, the abstract, the tangible and the symbolic. The conduits for this journey were the works of approximately 40 local artists and the engaging performance by some vocalists and musicians. So it was on Sunday at the fifth staging of Artbeats.

Visual beats reverberated in 2-D: acrylic on canvas, and 3-D: ceramic, papier-mâché, digital and jewellery. The compelling subjects of each helped to transform the Legacy Suite, Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston, into a space of creativity.

Likewise, the performing arts were tantamount to an incredible piece of abstract work. There were remarks from one of the organisers, Amitabh Sharma, and Head of Consular Section, Embassy of the Russian Federation in Jamaica, Aleksei Sazanov, as well as the musical selections all guided by MC Roxene Nickle.

Sharma said Artbeats highlighted and showcased the wonderful Jamaican art, and the creativity of the artists. And in ­celebration of its fifth anniversary, the 2019 version is being held over two days.

Monday would feature works from several art schools across Russia. Entertainment would be in poetry and ballet, Saxonov told the Sunday patrons.

INTERNATIONAL FLAVOUR

Sunday’s entertainment had its international flavour, too. The relatively unknown Balion Inc (Jamaica) was joined by Prince Daud and Angel (Israel). Daud, who described himself as a warrior of sound, performed a few reggae-beat songs. But he will be remembered for injecting ‘ Halleluiah’ at every opportunity. He also implored the audience to leave their baggage, and to make the change for the environment. Then he and Angel remained on stage as supporting vocalists for Balion Inc with songs such as Mind Control and Under Siege.

Balion Inc and Daud were backed by Maroghimi on drums, and Amiri Hanson on guitar. But Maroghimi’s drums, the unfamiliar tablas, and saba, are more than just musical instruments as, like the artworks, they too tell a story.

Maroghimi, in speaking with The Gleaner, said the table drum came from India, while the saba drum came from Senegal. “Usually, in tabla-style drumming, there are many signatures involved. It is very complex. It is also semi-melodic as a percussion instrument; and is also tuned to the same key as the melodic instrument that is being played along with it.”

The saba drumming is very complex too, the programme is different from the more familiar conga and djembe drums.

The patrons were also treated to music from Mexican Manuel Lopez.

His high-spirited performance broke the split-focus created by the well-placed works of art and the performance on stage. But the second secretary of the Embassy of Mexico’s captivating performance had all eyes on stage; and on the rendition of his country’s traditional songs, representing the ‘three routes’ – Indian [native], Spanish and African – he was greeted with applause.

So, too, was Jamaican saxophonist Warren Harris, who gave a ­stirring rendition of the folk-jazz song St Thomas.