Art of the month: ‘Enigmatick Funktification’

Jackson BurnsideStanley Burnside and John Beadle, Enigmatick Funktification (Detail), 1996. Acrylic on canvas, 52.75” x 151”. National Collection.

It’d be rather difficult to explore our Bahamian Domestic Permanent Exhibition without noticing “Enigmatick Funktification” – an energetic work occupying more than 48 square feet of wall. The acrylic painting is the product of a collaborative approach, known as “Jammin’”, by John Beadle, the late Jackson Burnside and Stan Burnside.

Though it could easily take days to thoroughly examine the work, visitors can find clues pointing to the painting’s Junkanoo roots in a single glance. “Enigmatick Funktification” – a mélange of vibrant colours, figures in costumes and musical instruments – is reminiscent of Bay Street in the early morning hours of Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. This is when Junkanoo, a biennial street parade and the country’s most revered festival, takes place. There is good reason for the tradition’s presence in the painting.

Discovering their affinity for Junkanoo in the late 70s and early 80s, Jackson and Stan Burnside were leading members of the Saxons Junkanoo group for years before leaving to help found the One Family group. It’s no surprise, then, that Junkanoo is heavily represented in their works.

Jammin’ – a term coined by the Burnside brothers – originated in Junkanoo shacks. It refers to the process of as many as six Junkanooers working on a single piece simultaneously. Inspired by the approach, the duo embraced the Jammin’ methodology in their studios, creating works together.

Founding B-C.A.U.S.E. (Bahamian Creative Artists United for Serious Expression) in the early 1990s, the Burnside brothers expanded the Jammin’ circle and invited Beadle, Brent Malone, Antonius Roberts and Max Taylor to collaborate on a body of work. They later invited then-recent COB graduate John Beadle to join what is now referred to as the “Burnside-Beadle-Burnside” collaboration.

Between 1995 and 1996, the trio produced a series of works of which “Enigmatick Funktification” was a part. The collection traveled to Atlanta, Georgia in 1996, where it amazed visitors at the Olympic Games. “Enigmatick Funktification” has since made the rounds and returned home, where it rests comfortably in our permanent collection. Stop by and see it Tuesday to Saturday between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or Sunday between 12 noon and 4 p.m.