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Venice Biennale: Grenada's Art As An Ambassador To The World


Asher Mains

January 9, 2020

Grenada pulses with art — hashtags #artgrenada and #grenadaartisland show off a wide variety of local and international Grenadian art. One of the top tourist attractions on the island is Jason deCaires Taylor’s underwater sculpture park.

The island seems to have creativity in its DNA, so it’s fitting that it has established a presence at the highest level in Europe. In 2019 Grenada claimed its place as one of the leaders in the region on the global contemporary art stage with its third consecutive appearance at the Venice Biennale.

The Venice Biennale: ‘the Olympics of the art world’

Padiglone, Venice Biennale (photo: Francesco Gill, courtesy Venice Biennale)

Dating back to 1895, the Venice Biennale is the oldest and largest such exhibition in the world. Known as the Olympics of the art world, there were 90 countries participating in 2019. The art addresses contemporary topics that intersect beauty with pressing social issues.

Arsenale, Venice Biennale (photo: Andrea Avezzú, courtesy Venice Biennale)

Since the mid-twentieth century the Venice Biennale has presented avant-garde, cutting edge work that sets the tone for the international contemporary art conversation. It is intentionally non-commercial and the artwork is intended to communicate rather than sell. This year Ralph Rugoff, the main curator, chose 79 of the most internationally diverse, young, and an equal number of men and women artists, for the Central Exhibition.

What it takes to put Grenada on the world stage of art

Artwork by Billy Gerard Frank

Curator for the Grenada National Pavilion, Daniele Radini Tedeschi, is head of an Italian company that organises art exhibits called stART. He curated Grenada’s four artists: Dave Lewis, Billy Gerard Frank, Amy Cannestra, and Shervone Neckles. Susan Mains, the commissioner for the Grenada National Pavilion, partnered with stART to raise funds to cover the enormous costs of maintaining an exhibit in Venice over seven months. The role of the commissioner is unpaid and done for the benefit of the artists and the country. One of Grenada’s keys to success is its openness to collaborate with others to build a network, and push Grenada and its artists forward.

Artwork by Amy Cannestra

Additionally, the pavilion in 2019 would not have been possible without assistance from private and governmental local sponsors including LaLuna, Century 21 Grenada, the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Culture & the Arts led by Senator the Honourable Norland Cox, the National Lottery Authority and the Grenada Tourism Authority. The Grenada Arts Council volunteers administrative support for the duration of the Biennale.

Artists Dave Lewis, Amy Cannestra, Billy Gerard Frank and Shervone Neckles

What does it mean for Grenada?

Participating in the Venice Biennale means that although Grenada is very small, we have a place at the table in the international contemporary art scene. Grenada trails only Cuba and Venezuela in the region in number of appearances, making it the English-speaking Caribbean’s front runner. The Grenada National Pavilion received over 60,000 visitors at the last Biennale in 2017, drawing attention for Grenada and its artists from a network of international curators, artists and supporters.

Our national anthem says, “aspire, build, advance” - we hope our artists will continue to live up to this - participating at the pinnacle of international art, as our creative ambassadors to the world.


Asher Mains is a Grenadian artist and the president of the Grenada Arts Council