Bryan McFarlane, a Maroon At Large in the World of Art

Apr 7, 2024
by Carolyn Cooper

Bryan McFarlane exemplifies a new generation of Maroons who claim ancestral origins and, simultaneously, explore new worlds of possibility. From New Nanny Town, McFarlane has travelled the globe. His creative work reflects his journeys of discovery. His artistic vision is a rallying cry for a revolution of the spirit. Like the abeng, McFarlane’s art is an instrument of liberation.

McFarlane’s latest exhibition, “Fragments of Time III,” opened at the Olympia Gallery on February 15. Located in a distinctive building conceived by the brilliant civil engineer A.D. Scott, Olympia is the largest private gallery in Jamaica. For more than two decades, its director, Rosie Thwaites, has sustained A.D. Scott’s unique vision of an apartment building combined with a centre for the arts. The permanent collection of art in the complex is breathtaking. So many other galleries in Jamaica have folded. Rosie Thwaites must be commended for her commitment to keeping the Olympia Gallery open. It has not been easy at all.

The arresting works in McFarlane’s exhibition document the culture of the places where he has set up his mobile studio: Jamaica, of course. Then, there is Senegal, Ghana, China, Turkey, Brazil and more. One of the most moving pieces in the exhibition is “Muslim Women at the Window.” It evokes a sense of longing to escape the limitations imposed on women who are confined in domesticity.

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