National Art Gallery Presents 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”.
The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas