I plucked my soul out of its secret place,
And held it to the mirror of my eye,
To see it like a star against the sky,
A twitching body quivering in space,
A spark of passion shining on my face.
And I explored it to determine why
This awful key to my infinity
Conspires to rob me of sweet joy and grace.
And if the sign may not be fully read,
If I can comprehend but not control,
I need not gloom my days with futile dread,
Because I see a part and not the whole.
Contemplating the strange, I'm comforted
By this narcotic thought: I know my soul.
— Claude McKay
MULTIDISCIPLINARY / CONTEMPORARY ARTIST
Jamaican-American painter, poet and writer, Ainsley Burrows, weaves untold histories on canvas, through poetry and performance art. The works speak for ancestors past and present, enlivening the soul, and awakening a shared tapestry recognized by a universal experience. Over the last ten years Ainsley Burrows has completed hundreds of paintings and six series beginning with the groundbreaking Maroons Rebellion, a collection of 125 large format paintings reflecting on the island's almost insurmountable journey from slavery to freedom, up into his 2020 series, Art For The Coming Age, a painters reflection on the current Corona Virus and the fight for black lives. Ainsley Burrows is one of the most prolific artists of our time, a multidisciplinary, award-winning artist who has toured the world sharing poetry, performance and visual…. XXXXX
THE MAROONS REBELLION
The Maroons Rebellion series is a collection of 125 large format paintings.
Artist statement about The Maroons Rebellion Series (2019)
It is an honor to present this series because everything that I have experienced in my life has led me to this point, and I honor that. A decisive part of my personal belief system is about rebellion; being an individual, your own person… about not being a slave to anything. I was born in Jamaica and received a vigorous formal and informal education in history and the social sciences. The Maroons of Jamaica at their core are rebellious, freedom fighting people; so telling our story was important and inescapable.
The Maroons are the first group of African people in the western hemisphere to have taken full autonomy from European powers. This series is a depiction of the historical context that led to their rise; and the hindsight perspective that reveals a direct relationship to African spirituality, African art, modern day dissent and even their connection to modern popular culture.
In this series I am dealing with a very intense and chaotic history, full of emotion, pain, resistance and rebellion. In addition to the brush, I use a palette knife to apply the paint, as well as pastels and paint sticks to capture and convey this story. The knife gives me less control, but it is more expressive and allows me to be closer to the canvas - giving the observer closer contact with my emotional state. The use of text in my paintings came intuitively, as I am a poet by trade. With paint sticks I’m literally writing a word – and that word becomes a thousand images.
This technique, that I call Neo-Chaos, is like putting the physicality of what I think and feel about the subject onto the canvas. I am taking the turbulence of what I perceive mentally and presenting it on the canvas in such a way that the interaction with the work is visceral – like digging a hole into the canvas so someone can see what’s in the hole.
— Ainsley Burrows