Upcoming Exhibition: Amos Ferguson, Bahamian Outsider

The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas
is extremely pleased to be staging a large-scale retrospective of one
of the masters of the Bahamian art scene: Amos Ferguson. Born in Exuma
in 1920 and passed away in Nassau in 2009, Ferguson is well known beyond
the Bahamian shores for his brilliantly colored scenes of Bahamian life
and illustrated Bible stories. Aptly entitled “Bahamian Outsider,” this show aims to firmly establish this self-taught artist into the firmament of great Bahamian and international artists.

This exhibition not only presents over 100 of his paintings, many of
which are precious early works out of private collections that have
remained long-unseen, but will also show Ferguson’s glasswork, ceramics
and interest in the creation of objects for daily use.

Despite great international success in his lifetime, Ferguson remained
on the fringes of Bahamian culture for many years. Ferguson executed his
naive, folksy works with outdoor house paint on humble cardboard;
untrained and not part of any organized art network, he can hence be
described as an “intuitive” or “outsider” artist. An obsessive
producer, driven by faith and visions, over his life Ferguson
accumulated an extensive oeuvre of uniquely styled depictions, replete
with his very own brand of title spelling.

Not only is The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas re-opening the
upstairs ballroom for this exhibition, which extends the gallery space
by almost one third. This has given us the opportunity to re-display
many works from the National Collection.

In order to parallel Ferguson’s work on an art historical level, the
downstairs exhibition will contextualize his practice within the
“Outsider Artist” genre, clarifying what is an “outsider” or “intuitive”
artist and examining this movement within the Bahamian art landscape.
Examples of other “outsiders” are Joe Monks, Reverend Mervin Thompson,
and Wellington Bridgewater, which will reveal this tradition to be a
strong part of Bahamian culture. Contrasts will also be made with other
established Bahamian artists such as Rolfe Harris and Eddie Minnis to
illustrate clearly the difference between “self-taught” and “intuitive.”

Finally, an interactive space has been designed to recreate the ambiance
of Ferguson’s studio. Visitors will be able to try to “Paint like Amos”
and thus disprove a long-standing bias against the work of one of our
greatest Bahamian master painters – that “a child could do that”.

Amanda Coulson,
The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas