Jorian Charlton, Kadine Lindsay fi di gyal dem

May 5–Dec 10,  2022
    Jorian Charlton, Untitled (Sydné & Keverine), 2020. Courtesy of the artist
Jorian Charlton, Untitled (Sydné & Keverine), 2020. Courtesy of the artist

This online exhibition of works by Toronto-based photographer Jorian Charlton and visual artist Kadine Lindsay, presented by Doris McCarthy Gallery, is an intimate celebration of the interior lives of Black women. Alongside portraits, paintings, and animation, fi di gyal dem includes a series of commissioned, collaborative mixed media pieces. This project invites viewers to explore the interconnections in the practices of these artists and the larger cultural moments that inform their work.

In Under Me Sensei (2021), Charlton photographed Lindsay lying on a couch, smoking a joint in a friend’s sun-drenched living room on a languid afternoon. Lindsay then added her own portraits to this image, painting two other women smoking next to her on the floor. Much like the photographic representation of Lindsay, these women also wear lingerie and hold an unyielding gaze. This libidinous, self-assured image is a beautiful marriage of what both artists do so well in their work: Charlton’s ability to imagine familiar, domestic spaces that allow her subjects to feel at ease; and Lindsay’s use of multiplicity and divergent selves that highlight the many layered, inner worlds of Black women.

Sitting at the intersection of fashion and documentary, Charlton’s contemporary portrayals of Black women display her subjects’ vulnerability and willingness to meet the camera as their complete, uncensored selves. Shooting primarily on medium-format film, Charlton photographs with an unhurried rhythm that allows for razor sharp compositions, an often striking use of natural light, and ample room for the personality of these women to unfold in front of her lens. The resulting portraits allow Black women to be seen as they really are—bold, tender, vulnerable, sensual, and undaunted by a world that often projects unrealistic expectations upon them, or fails to see them at all. Through these photographs, their expansive interiority is on full display.

In contrast to Charlton’s documentary-style approach, Lindsay’s surreal illustrations depict a world that, while fantastical, is firmly rooted in her lived experience. Her luxuriant use of colour references a Jamaican upbringing in which bright, saturated tones dominated public spaces and covered the facades of neighbours’ homes. Woman (2021) and Pon Di Pole (2021) depict their protagonists coming into their sexual autonomy, in defiance of societal perceptions of Black women as hypersexual beings pressured to perform “respectability.” Lindsay makes space for self-exploration and sexual awakening, where multiple versions of the self exist to explore the many roads to self-actualization.

Each artist takes a different route to a remarkably similar depiction of Black womanhood, heavily influenced by their shared Jamaican heritage. In fi di gyal dem, Charlton’s and Lindsay’s works are paired in diptychs depicting Black women in various states of refusal: refusing to lower their gaze, tone down their sexuality, or to become less vibrant or nurturing in a world that conditions them to be anything but. This sentiment is punctuated by the collaborative works that allow space for the artists not only to depict other Black women, but also one another, and themselves. This intimate exercise in representation only enhances the potency of their message.

Presented online, fi di gyal dem places Charlton’s and Lindsay’s images alongside user-generated meme content that embodies this spirit of refusal, contextualizing the work of both artists within a larger scope of Black women’s cultural production. In doing so, this digital exhibition becomes a vehicle for celebrating not only the artists, but also a larger artistic tradition of Black cultural innovation borne of defiance and a refusal to do as told.

Curated by Roya DelSol

Presented by Doris McCarthy Gallery in partnership with CONTACT

Jorian Charlton is a portrait photographer based in Toronto. Her work focuses on Jamaican-Canadian culture through her personal experiences, highlighting beauty and style when it comes to contemporary modes of Black representation. She pursues reflections of identity and diasporic relationships to homeland, while her poetic approach to these themes characterizes her method of visual storytelling.

Kadine Lindsay is an illustrator based in Toronto, Canada. She mixes the styles of late-1990s and early-2000s animation with visuals from her Jamaican upbringing, to tell stories that aren’t usually told, depicting the nuances of Black Existence. In her work she strives to make people feel seen, heard and celebrated.