by Douglas Crosdale

This Jamaican flag has grabbed my interest. Suddenly, I am studying it as a work of art But art is ultimately a point of view, isn’t it? A perspective both literally and figuratively. Visual tension followed by its release is a very common pattern in all the arts. Take for instance the images of the two Flags: Those of France and Jamaica. The tension created by the cross-hatched yellow diagonals gives Jamaica’s flag a powerful and dynamic expression. The parallel stripes of the French flag, although expressing orderliness, are more sterile and static. To my mind, less interesting in the modern era.

Visual tension creates visual interest. It’s more dynamic and leads to more complex relationships between elements. We can use this to evoke feelings of energy, vitality, forcefulness, and even modernism.

More tension leads to more attention, because we feel something is off and we need it to resolve itself back to a more static state of rest. When tension is present we feel something is going to happen and we don’t want to miss it.

Varying visual tension throughout a design by creating contrasts in space, pulling some elements closer together, and pushing others further apart, creates rhythm and flow-through design. Tension in one area, release in another.

Ironically, Jamaican culture has emerged in the catbird seat of world culture with icons like Marley and now it’s the flag. Symbols that represent an alternative perspective to that of consumerism and imperialism.

Red, Green, and Blue are the three additive primary colors, meaning combining the light of those colors in different ratios can get you all of the colors the eye can see. The opposite of red is green. The opposite of blue is yellow/orange. Black and White are neutral chromatics, not colours.

Symbolically, therefore, these flags represent opposite sentiments about a world view