Artist: Marcus Jahmal
Exhibition title: Gombo
Curated by: Loïc Le Gall
Venue: Passerelle Centre d’art contemporain, Brest, France
Date: June 8 – August 31, 2019
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Passerelle Centre d’art contemporain
For his first solo exhibition in France, Marcus Jahmal (born 1990, United States) presents a series of drawings and paintings. They are for the most part figurative and have been produced since 2016.
A self-trained artist, he grew up in a mixed family on a west indian block in New York. Jahmal grew up in a multi-ethnic, working class environment. He has assimilated the cultural codes of the street, having rubbed shoulders with graffiti artists and having himself tagged façades in New York, as well as Latino and Creole traditions, and African-American music from jazz up to today’s Hip-Hop.
Built around three principal themes – a mythical bestiary, life in Brooklyn and the Black condition, and the observation of the American landscape – the exposition is a summary of permanent hybridization and of an unconventional sensibility. The imaginary bestiary blends voodoo scenes with hybrids from Inca and Egyptian mythology; Venus, a policeman and the ironwork motifs of gates make up a group that contextualizes the life of a New York neighborhood, of pre-gentrification Brooklyn and especially that of the Black community; while an imaginary American landscape is represented through large colorful abstractions.
The title of the exhibition, Gombo, refers to the creole cuisine of New Orleans, the cosmopolitan city where Jahmal traces his roots. A “turf and surf” dish, it is a symbol of the fusion of European, African and Native American cultures. Gombo seeks to become a kind of metaphor of the atypical and blended history of the artist. In the context of the exhibition at the Passerelle contemporary art center, Marcus Jahmal will spend a month in Brest in order to produce a new body of works in specific relation to his experience in Finistère.