Creation’s Grace: Minnis Family Retrospective


Creation’s Grace: Minnis Family Retrospective

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Sunday, November 30, 2014

Curated by Amanda Coulson

Starting with the extraordinarily talented Eddie Minnis, who was trained as an architect at McGill University (graduating with a BSc. in 1971) but is actually a self-taught painter, the exhibition will show his masterworks from the very early college years up to today and will also highlight the major works of both his daughters — Nicole Minnis Ferguson and Rosheanne Minnis Eyma — as well as his son-in-law, Ritchie Eyma.

Mr. Eddie Minnis (b. Nassau, 1947) first experimented with ink, watercolours and pastels; he was much beloved for his satires of the political landscape in the 70s in his cartoon series”Pot Luck,” which ran in the Nassau Guardian for 7 years and in The Tribune from April 1977 until October 1981. Recognising that oils hadgreater value and texture, as early as 1965, Mr. Minnis was experimenting in applying paint with a palette knife, using thick paint and broad strokes — inspired by Van Gogh — but later honing his skill to a fine pointillism, practising an extremely precise gesture, executed with a very small and delicate knife. Inspired by the FrenchImpressionists, who painted en plein air, Mr. Minnis loves to pain outdoor scenes, mainly landscapes and town scenes, often with wonderful Bahamian flora in full bloom. More often than not, these images are unpopulated, even excising the traces of modern human society, not setting down the telegraph lines, vehicles, or other evidence of the contemporary world, a paean to a traditional Bahamian way of life in harmony with nature. One can clearly see, in his passion for illustrating simple abodes and traditional Bahamian homes, the skill of his architectural training, while using the texture of the paint to create depth, bringing the stones of buildings, the leaves of trees and shrubs, or the panelling of wooden houses, into relief with a wonderful impasto technique.

Daughters Nicole (b. 1970) and Roshanne (lovingly called “Shan” by the family, b. 1972) couldn’t have had a better teacher; learning at their father’s knee, both showed excellence in their field at an early age. The panoramic lens that Eddie used to look at the world was, however, pulled into sharp focus and both daughters concerned themselves more with the people that were missing in their father’s work, creating carefully studied portraits of regular folk, going about their daily life and labour. Perhaps it was an inherent maternal streak, but the Minnis girls saw not just the beauty of the country but the beauty in the people — the mothers, fathers, daughters and sons — and the grace brought to the simple everyday tasks they perform, no matter how mundane : fishing, hair braiding, selling papers, cleaning fish, sharing a freshly cut coconut. Nicole’s work –mainly in oils — records the emotions of the characters, etched in their faces or shining through their eyes; she reveals a deep pathos for her countrymen and -women, and, as a portraitist, can rival any of the greats. Her younger sister, Roshanne, also works in oils but also excels in soft pastels; Eddie tells the story of how he gave her a box when she was about 13 and he never picked them up again, recognising that his student was to easily master him soon in that medium! Roshanne’s work differs to Nicole’s in her concentration on the manual and physical labour undertaken by many Bahamians; women in outdoor kitchens, men gutting fish or hauling conch; all of her subjects are bestowed a certain grace in their tasks, showing a pride, dignity and dexterity in their labour. Roshanne met her soulmate in Ritchie Eyma (b. Nassau, 1967), another painter also in love with the Bahamian landscape, the traditional way of life, the people, the landscape, though capturing them all in a darker-toned palette, possibly an influence of his early years spent in Haiti, where the artists tend to use darker hues in their work. With an uncle who was a ceramicist and another who was enrolled in L’Academie des Beaux Arts, Eyma also grew up surrounded by art; his playground was the National Art Galleryand the Galerie d’Art Nader in Port-Au-Prince. Eyma moved back to his homeland of The Bahamas as a teenager and later exhibited at the Central Bank and our own NAGB in the inaugural and other National Exhibitions. Eyma also has an eye for scenes of quotidian beauty and, exhibiting together since 2005, he became a part of the Minnis family and its artistic heritage. All devout representatives of the Jehovah’s Witness Ministry, the family works tirelessly in the community and sees their artwork as a tribute to the glory of creation.

This exhibition will show both older and newer works by all four artists — many coming out of private collections for the public to view for the first time in many years — and will allow visitors to see the developments in their processes, while revelling in the grace bestowed upon us through the beauty of our country and its traditions