By Lindsey Turnbull
Nobody is really able to get quite so close as artist Jason Kennedy does to translating the heart and soul of the Caymanian people into artwork and putting that down on canvas. His sensitive depictions of familiar local faces are unique and evocative, so perusing his one-night-only show, Salt, last week at the Mercedes Benz showroom was a pleasure for those who took the time to view his work.
Ten new originals in his latest series were hung majestically from the ceiling of this light and airy location, with many more prints of the original ten available to those who could not afford the CI$10,000 price tag of the originals. Subject matter is a collection of Caymanian faces with one thing in common – their connection to the sea. Each piece depicts a different emotion or sentiment derived from the subject’s interaction with the sea, and included pieces such as ‘Contemplation in George Town’, ‘Solitude, Resilience’ and ‘Freedom’.
Jason said his last exhibition was three years ago so, with that time span existing between shows, the inspiration for this new show came quite naturally.
“As an artist, you just feel the inspiration to host something and display your work,” he advised. “I had some success with my last show which was called ‘Beating heart of the Caribbean’. This is basically an extension of that; it’s on a very similar theme.”
With Salt, Jason said all the artwork is closely connected with the sea.
“Visually and quite literally,” he advised. “You will see that each piece, although evoking a different emotion, is very much connected to our response - as people who live on the island - to the sea, whether you are a fisherman, you’re a diver, or whether you’re someone who casually takes a dip in the sea every now and then, which I think is a lot of people here.”
Jason incorporated a lot of salt water into the paintings themselves.
“As you will see, they are splashy; visually they look quite wet, because they are. All the acrylics are steeped with sea water. I go down to Seven Mile Beach, take a big scoop of water and infuse that into the paintings. It doesn’t affect the quality or visually (you cannot see the salt), but it does bring that connectivity into the paintings, and hopefully, into your home,” he explained.
Jason takes photos of his subjects and then stitches the photos together to create the final product. Some of the paintings’ subject matter were staged, as Jason said he has some people in mind.
“Some people were hand-selected because I really liked their look,” he said.
One person who he wanted to use was Sid, a former tour guide from the Crystal Caves.
“He’s just one of these guys who everyone knows up in North Side. Here’s got this really cool look, he’s got this Cayman crest on his back, so he just looked awesome,” Jason confirmed.
Others he came across literally, simply by driving around.
“I just knew that if I went out for a few hours I would come across some people that might fit the look, and then I approached them and let them know what I was up to,” he said.
All of them agreed to be painted, especially when he showed them other artwork and when they recognised other figures from around Cayman in his work.
“I hope people take it as a representation of the Cayman people. Yes, it’s through my eyes, but I hope that it is accurate and I hope people enjoy it, which is the point,” he stated.
The exhibition was a pop up, a one-night event that took place on Friday 19 November and extended through until Saturday.
Jason said he was keen to give back to the community, especially given the subject matter was the Caymanian people, so he selected three charities close to his heart who need the support. Ten percent of the proceeds from the sales of this series will go to Feed our Future and also the MS Foundation. In addition, a raffle is taking place, to be drawn on 15 December. Raffle ticket holders will win Jason’s own Mercedes car and a signed print of one of his incredible paintings. Tickets are CI$25 and 100% of these proceeds will go to Meals on Wheels. You can buy tickets at The Bird, Peppers, Bevvy, Steak Social, Bacaro and One Heart yoga studio.