Jamaican artist Mikheal Deans takes ‘assimilated formalism’ global
Jamaican artist Mikheal Deans’ “Irie Vibes” and “Bashment to Bacchanale” were among the displays as part of the Reggae Roots exhibition at the National Art Centre in Canada.
Deans, who coined the term ‘assimilated formalism’ to describe his art style, which features prominently in the seven pieces he sent to Canada, shared that the art form is rapidly growing in popularity.
“This exhibit was the first time I had shown assimilated formalism outside of Jamaica and the response was overwhelmingly positive and encouraging,” Deans said.
Interest in assimilated formalism, according to Deans, has been growing ever since, something he attributes to the increased exposure of his work, having had the chance to showcase in the National Gallery and galleries abroad.
“Increasingly museums from across Canada and the United States are interested in showcasing my pieces,” added Deans, noting that he has even begun to see other artists adopting the style.
Speaking about assimilated formalism, Deans said that the art form, which is native to Jamaica, is unique because of how lines are treated.
“In assimilated formalism the lines are used to illustrate many different meanings and evoke many different emotions based on how it is treated,” Deans explained.
“The lines can form a variety of curves and shapes that can allow the artist to release many other ideas and feelings that need to be expressed outside of the primary conceptual representation,” he added.
Deans further explained that lines, in the way that he has utilised them, adds movement, even length, breadth and depth to an illustration that makes them appear to be almost alive.
Jamaican artists tend to be firmly rooted in the realism school of art, but Deans says assimilated formalism represents a break from tradition, moving towards a Jamaican interpretation of romanticism characterised by an emphasis on emotion and individualism.
Borrowing heavily from local artists Taj Francis and Mallica “KAPO” Reynolds, Deans wants more local artists to experiment with assimilated realism as a means propelling the movement forward.