Ainsley Burrows

Artist statement about The Maroons 

 

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.

 

My hope is that the viewer feels an intense connection with the people and the history that I am

presenting – with what their life and experiences must have been.

 

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Mr. Burrows is a poet and writer. He painted at various intervals in his life, and in the last five

years painting has taken on a much greater importance in his artistic expression. The Maroons

series is the embodiment of information that Mr. Burrows has gathered, mulled-over, rejected,

and accepted during his life. It is not just a work of art, it is a visual, historical document that

gives you access to another world through the lens of history combined with personal feeling.

“The way Ainsley uses paint is brave and matches his subject matter. Ainsley’s technique

requires that he uses his whole body when creating work, so his strokes are grand and full of

fevered movement. His use of color is bold and unapologetic, and the placement of the color

and his color choices are intuitive; it’s almost like the work is telling him exactly what it needs.

This series is yelling to the viewer to pay attention, to see more.”

 

                                                                                                              — Naudline Pierre, Artist

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There are rare moments when an artist is able to create indelible work with the ability to transcend space and time.  Ainsley Burrows, Jamaican born and Brooklyn raised multidisciplinary artist, invites us to witness such a visceral and poignant feat in his newest collection, The Maroons.  Burrows renders the collective black psyche - grounded in historical research and Caribbean culture - spanning over centuries with technical complexity and a poetic raw truth that is both beautiful and heartbreaking. A sort of 'universal specificity', this collection wrangles with the very soul as it examines the psychological, spiritual, and emotional repercussions of slavery, colonization and white supremacy as its ripples are still felt in this day.  The series feels so intentional, as Burrows challenges western ideologies with visual metaphors and smart socio-political imagery in an amalgam of mediums, but never forgets to celebrate blackness in all of its forms: from the royals to the corner-boys, from the slave to the Gods, from the mundane to the abstract and ethereal, there is an undeniable resonance in every color and textural choice carrying this kinetic energy. We move through time with every painting, the ocean comes alive and the sky breaks within every layer of the work, rewarding us with an authentic and powerful experience one could never forget. 

 

Pages Matam - Director of Poetry Events at Busboys and Poets, 

Callaloo Fellow, 2018 DC Arts & Humanities Fellow, 

Award winning Author & Performer.

Call

T:347-409-7442  
 

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