Visual Culture: Art in the Dancehall

June 27, 2012

Words by Emily Shapiroโ€”

When dancehall music bust in the 1980’s, with it came a new style of art and design. Album covers reflected the music’s raw sensibilities with over-the-top cartoons and imagery, while sound systems spread the word about their parties with bright, unique posters. These works, which were often hand-painted and generally one of a kind, continue to be peppered all around Jamaica. The intimate relationship between dancehall music and art has rarely been highlighted (though we do our part to give it its due) but our homies Shimmy Shimmy and Al Fingers have taken care of that with their exhibit, “Art in the Dancehall,” which opens today, June 27, at the BASS Festival in Birmingham, England.

The exhibit, which runs until July 13 in Birmingham and then moves to London from July 27 to August 12, boasts an impressive collection of work from legendary cover art designers Tony McDermott, Limonious and Jamaal Peete and flyer man Sassafras, as well as new and up-and-coming artists influenced by classic dancehall aesthetics, such as LargeUp favorite Robin Clare. If you are in town, this is a must see for dancehall fanatics and art lovers alike. Check out some highlights from the show below, and go celebrate this rich visual culture.