We are delighted to announce Elkino Dames’ first solo exhibition at The D’Aguilar Art Foundation. Entitled 20/20, Dames recalls 20 years ago, when he was just 20 years old, and Vincent D’Aguilar purchased five of his formative artworks. That same year, Dames made the bold decision to become a professional artist. 20/20 also references the privilege of hindsight, as the exhibition will provide the audience and artist the opportunity to see new and old artworks hanging together: paintings made in 2023 alongside works from 2003 acquired by the D’Aguilar Art Collection.
Dames’ artwork focuses on Bahamian stories and spiritual illustrations. He appropriates African masks, African religious symbols, and infamous local historical figures to create bold, colorful paintings made with intuitive and visible brush marks. Dames’ many years working as an art teacher in the Bahamian “out-islands” (initially Andros and now The Exumas) comes through in his choice of material: poster paper and bright acrylic paint. His material approach is particularly interesting because it mashes together ideas from POP-Art with an intuitive/expressionist approach – as Dames’ references and collages familiar found images, but transforms them with his visceral approach to mark and color.
Elkino Edward Dames (b. 1983, Nassau, The Bahamas) earned his Associates of Art from The College of The Bahamas in 2008 and completed his Bachelors in Art Education in 2011. Since 2008 he has worked as an art teacher at the L.W. Young Junior High School and is presently at the Huntley Christie High School in North Andros. Additionally, he has taught at the RBC FINCO Summer Art Workshop for a number of years and began instructing at the Summer Mixed Media Workshop at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas in 2017. Dames worked as the assistant curator at The Central Bank of The Bahamas for two years under the mentorship of Mr. Antonius Roberts.
Dames found early success as an artist when he won an anti-drug poster contest in 1994 hosted by the U.S. Customs and Bahamian Government. He ran a small art stand Downtown where he was patronized by tourists interested in his work. In 2002, he participated in his first exhibition at the Central Bank of the Bahamas and sold his first painting. Since then, he has received two honorable mentions and placed second and third in the annual event.
His first solo show, "Brush Strokes", was held on August 23rd, 2013 at the Historic Gray cliff Humidor Pavilion. He has participated in Transforming Spaces 2014 and exhibited new works at Antonius Roberts Hillside House Gallery. In 2016 and 2017, Dames displayed new works from himself and his Students in Doongalik Studios and his present posting in North Andros respectively. In March 2018, Mr. Dames again participated in Transforming Spaces "Historic Nassau" where two of his pieces were on display.
Dames' work can be found in a number of collections across the Bahamas. In 2020, Dames exhibited his works at Sixty Two Sixty, downtown Nassau.
‘Gaze’ features the artwork of Melissa Alcena, Delton Barrett, Theo McClain, Clavia McClain, and Blair Meadows. This group photography and video exhibition was produced by guest curator, Ivanna Gaitor after she applied for our open-call entitled “curator opportunity” in 2022. Gaitor was awarded the curatorial prize as a result of her outstanding submission essay, about the challenges of the “tourist gaze” and artists/artworks that have transcended it.
Excerpts from Gaitor’s essay include the following:
“What comes to mind when you think of paradise? There is likely an immediate mental visual of crystal-clear water, miles of sand, palm trees and a cold drink in hand. Maybe even a private cabana and a nearby hammock. When we consider the many islands and cays within the Caribbean that are synonymous with paradise by design, we often forget the people that are native to these getaways. Tourists would not be alone in this erasure: governments and joint powerful entities largely contribute to this as well. In fact, they are the reason the tourism industry exists. In The Bahamas, specifically tourism, is the bread and butter of the economy.
Millions of dollars are annually pumped into crafting the paradise narrative that attracts tourists. Which means that thousands of Bahamians depend on the tourism industry to sustain themselves and their families. An overreliance on an industry rooted in service can have damaging effects on a nation’s identity and surely for The Bahamas it has. Whether you are a taxi driver stationed at the airport, a downtown store clerk or a college student pursuing study abroad, you are an unofficial ambassador of your country. It is embedded within you to cater to and preserve the expectations of current and potential future visitors by greeting them with a warm smile, and going above and beyond the call of duty.”
“These expectations of amplifying the paradise narrative are also burdened upon local artists. Artworks of palm trees, beachscapes, conch shells, women figures going to and from the market and fish are common subject matters that are most sought out in Bahamian art. But Bahamians make art that far exceeds this limited subject matter.”
In response to her essay, Gaitor pulled together Bahamian photographers and film artists that document Bahamian narratives for a Bahamian audience.
Matthew David Rahming is an emerging interdisciplinary artist, born in Nassau in 1997.
Having graduated from St. Augustine's College in 2014, he then majored in art at the University of the Bahamas. In 2017, he held his first solo exhibition "TUFF" at the University's Pro Gallery. In 2022, Rahming’s work was chosen to exhibit in the NE10 at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. This is his first solo exhibition.
Rahming considers himself an expressionist whose process is heavily rooted in introspection and observation. Spiritual undercurrents in particular permeate this opus, a fact alluded to in many of the works’ titles.
His current practice is focused around paintings and drawings rendered predominantly in acrylic paint and charcoal and his latest body of work, which forms the emphasis of the current exhibition, focuses on sculptures and vessels fashioned from cement. With their textured/ragged/fossilferous surfaces, these works evoke a sense of the natural landscape in which they were created; made outside in his mother’s yard, this external context was integral to the artist in framing their conception. The use of cement, a material seemingly incompatible with the objects it embodies, serves as a reminder of the imperfect nature of things and their ultimate decay.
When the Bread They Have Cast on the Waters Comes Floating Back: Gordon Shadrach & Kachelle Knowles
Written by Byron Armstrong
“People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned.”
-James Baldwin, “No Name in the Street”
Diaspora refers to the dispersion, scattering, or migration of a people living in different lands. For the Afro-Caribbean diaspora, the word suggests so much more. Lived differences as vast as shared realities are narrow, like shards of glass, a testament to the structure that once preceded it. They are scattered across distances spanning miles, centuries, and sometimes just the length of a conversation. Gazing into broken glass has the same effect as staring into water troubled by a heavy stone dropped onto its surface. This is a diaspora for Black people. A ripple effect of refracted selves where the water breaks — was broken — by outside influence. We hold this stone deep within us, even as the water calms and memory fades. Submerged, but still felt. Blackness is not a monolith and yet the social construct of race and the systems built to enforce it were replicated across colonies. This replication has led to a hive-mind understanding of Black folk across the globe. An instinctual knowing of place within the plantation hierarchies of a white supremacist fever dream; a narcolepsy of spirit that Black folks have been trying to wake their captors from as the house they share burns down around them. This house of horrors, according to Baldwin in “The Fire Next Time”, is one that he questioned the wisdom of integrating into.
Although Black women were not excluded from dehumanization through over-sexualization, Black males also faced the perception of having inhuman strength to carry out their desires, specifically against white women, if unchecked. In addition to the lie that Black males were also lazy if not forced into labour, propaganda around their oversexed, violent natures gave the state the right to police, maim, and kill them with impunity. This legacy follows us today in the statistics of disproportionate deaths at the hands of police, and the lynch mob mentality of private citizens taking it upon themselves to levy justice against activity deemed suspicious. Allegedly whistling at a white woman (Emmet Till - U.S.), jogging down the street (Ahmaud Arbery - U.S.), driving with your family (Philando Castile - U.S.), sleeping in your car (Jay Anderson Jr. - U.S.), experiencing a mental health crisis (Andrew Loku - Canada), (Clive Mensah - Canada), (Jean-René Junior Olivier - Canada), (Abdirahman Abdi - Canada), walking home (Trayvon Martin - U.S.), standing in a group (Neptune Four - Canada), taking a cab (Mark Duggan - UK), driving away from the police (Chris Kabba - UK), have been any number of “reasons” for Black males to die across the diaspora. “When the Bread They Have Cast on the Waters Comes Floating Back” interrogates how these aforementioned refracted selves are but a ripple effect of colonization and white supremacy. Borrowed from the title of Baldwin’s nonfiction work entitled “No Name in The Street”, this Transatlantic collaboration between artists Gordon Shadrach (Toronto, Canada) and Kachelle Knowles (Nassau, Bahamas) is a dialogue between diaspora. Revolving around themes of identity and representation, it celebrates the Black male by disrupting colonial narratives and the distorted reflections it creates through figurative portraiture. It’s in this spirit that gallery United Contemporary (Toronto, Canada) and The D’Aguilar Foundation (Nassau, Bahamas) endeavour to foster a dialogue between their distinctive practices through this duo-exhibition.
The term “Commonwealth” feels like a misnomer in the case of the Caribbean. What wealth is distributed evenly to common folk on the islands? Even the effects of climate change propagated by the Global North, disproportionately affect nations in the Global South. That a society with heavy reliance on the comfort of tourists would reinforce colonized ways of thinking in its populace in school is unsurprising. Knowles' School Boy Series: He's a Runner, He's a Track Star (2023) addresses how Black male physicality can be rewarded over intellectual pursuits, indirectly playing to eugenic tropes about Black IQ and the heightened athleticism of Black people.
“In the traditional school system, glory is found either in academics or sports. Those who are unable to succeed in their grades but excel greatly in sports turn into school heroes, and this tends to be more valued for men. Their ability as physically fit runners who place ( 1,2,3 and nothing else matters) are seen as popular and desired, so long as they come in first, second or at very least third place, and they now are more worthy than they ever could be.”
Knowles employs materials like graphite, coloured pencils, collage, marker, ink, gold leaf, and acrylic gemstones on toned paper to decorate a young sprinter in the style of a gladiator. An emerald-patterned shirt speaks to the colour scheme used in Knowles’ high school. Within the school, there were four “houses”, one of which (labelled “Dolphins”) was coloured green and was considered the most prominent house. Demi-godlike in his presence, the figure is adorned with a variety of gold medals representing his elevated status to his peers. What is the status based on? Black physical power earns praise in controlled circumstances and provokes fear outside of them. For proof, look no further than Muhammad Ali, stripped of his title in 1966 after refusing to fight in Vietnam on religious grounds. Tommie Smith and John Carlos were expelled from the 1968 US Olympic team and faced homelessness and derision for raising their fists in solidarity with the Black Power movement on the Olympic podium. Colin Kaepernick was unofficially blacklisted from the NFL after taking a knee in 2016 during the national anthem to protest and speak out against police brutality and racial injustice. The message is clear. Run, jump, lift, throw, entertain and you will be rewarded. But whatever you do, don’t think. Don’t emote. Don’t vocalize dissent.
In Take the Headboy Out of Your CV (2023), Knowles uses many of the same materials to continue the conversation about how society values Black boys. It is a recognition of the boy who is labelled “too smart” for their own good or “too interested” in their appearance. Conceived as an over-the-top version of the Bahamian school uniform, the pinned broaches and plaid scarf flourish also speak to the right of Black boys to express their individuality without the scrutiny of gender performance or the policing of Black hair —afros and facial hair often considered uncouth and indicative of lower class. As Baldwin said in “No Name in The Street”, “To be liberated from the stigma of Blackness by embracing it is to cease, forever, one’s interior agreement and collaboration with the authors of one’s degradation.”
Except for what lies on the surface, Gordon Shadrach could be seen as very different from his colleague. Age, gender, and geography should all point to lived experiences that are opposite to each other. However, Shadrach’s work intersects and overlaps like the long-lost piece of a puzzle found on the opposite end of the same room, where the presence of Black people — whether in The Bahamas or Canada — is least threatening when invisible or removed.
“So in our conversations, we were talking about how tourists feel uncomfortable when they see Black male Bahamians, in particular, actually enjoying the same spaces with them.
Experiencing that differently in Canada, for me it became about this idea of exploring black boy joy in public spaces as an act of rebellion.”
In his Fence Series (2023) Shadrach’s fences become an allegorical and literal barrier that thwarts Black joy. His paintings show the diminishment of barriers represented by shadows cast over Black figures. In Armour (2023), a dreadlocked male stands with his hands clasping the fence with an expression of longing. The barrier to his happiness is apparent, the shadows marking his face could just as easily be the long shadow cast by white supremacy and systemic oppression.
“Although we've been told that the barriers have come down and we're free to be ourselves, there’s still this scar tissue, which is the long-lasting effects of systemic racism, that impacts our freedom just to live our lives.”
Emerge (2023) reimagines the fence as having less power over the intended, with an opening where the Black male figure’s face sits. Even with the hole in the fence, there’s still a noticeable crisscrossing of shadow across the figure's face. As a small piece of the barrier dissipates, it leaves behind lines, like scar tissue, on the face of the figure. Perhaps, even after barriers come down, there’s still damage left behind and more barriers to remove. Shadrach’s paintings acknowledge the bypassing of barriers Black people have worked hard to secure, as well as the impact of the psychological, emotional, and at times, the physical toll it has taken to get there.
Knowles and Shadrach are shining a light on identity, representation, gender, and the impact of colonization, enslavement, and anti-Black racism on our collective values and perceptions. Although expressed differently, these themes are universal to the Afro-Caribbean diaspora. As such, they are successfully adding their voices to the Black experience in visual art.
In the middle of June a lady stopped by the DAF to look at some art. Now, this wasn’t unprecedented: we are a gallery, and we love giving people a view of what we have on display and in our collection. However, what was so special about this encounter is that she was looking for a particular painting that Stan Burnside painted of her many years ago.
“I can’t remember the name,” she said. We looked through photographs of Burnside’s paintings that we have in the DAF collection (23 in total), slowing down on the faces of each portrait until she found her own: entitled Saintly, a small piece delicately rendered more than a decade ago. The lady gushes over the name: “Saintly! Ha!” then she said: “I have to call Stan – “ and off she went, chatting and laughing with him on the phone, thanking him for capturing her face, forever, in oil paint. You can see the kindness and familiarity within the piece: the softness of the eyes and slight curve of the mouth, as if the woman in the painting is sharing a light joke with the viewer, or, with Stan as he painted her. Or maybe it was from memory and Stan looked to capture this softness that he knew her for and share it with us. Whatever the case, the picture is intimate, familiar, and so full of love.
When I was in grad school I had an advisor who often said that you can tell when the artist enjoyed the work that they are making. This is certainly true for Saintly, and all the works we chose for You Gotta See What it is Yer Lookin. With this show, Tessa and I considered what it is that we love about art and art making: its power to connect with people; to capture humanity; to help us how to remember to love:ourselves, and the people that is captured in our work. So we peeled through the DAF collection to find works that we know were inspired by people (and places) that the artist knew. These works are filled with the closeness and love that can only be captured when working with things that are familiar. It is filled with the enjoyment that my advisor talked to me about, often.
I hope you are able to witness this closeness, and enjoy visiting You Gotta See What it is Yer Lookin as much as we enjoyed putting it together.
Salt and Earth
Shacqueel Coleby, Dyah Neilson and Omar Williams
Open 5th May – 16th June 2022
The D’Aguilar Art Foundation is delighted to present Salt and Earth, a collaborative exhibition featuring Shacqeel Coleby, Dyah Neilson and Omar Williams.
The exhibition brings together artists that use symbols from The Bahamian landscape to reveal intricate stories about self, Bahamian lore and spirit.
Coleby and Neilson’s works feature fictional figures surrounded by a cornucopia of flora and fauna that weave together a these narratives – symbols like birds, shells and plants remind us of spirits, freedom, and the ancestors. While Coleby’s work arises from community stories and Neilson’s works are more personal, they both use these symbols from the Caribbean landscape to connect nature and the divine.Coleby pulls characters from Caribbean Folklore like John Canoe and the Gaulin Wife and self-made lore about “painted ladies” and reimagines them in a graphic landscape. Neilson’s all-female characters appear to live in the ocean, as part-human part-spirit. The ocean acts as a container for their psychological landscape -- the fish and birds offer clues to external stories or spirits that inhabit this space.Williams, a florist by trade, specializing in local plants, creates arrangements that respond to Coleby and Neilsons work. William’s installations will bring the symbolism from the canvas for us to experience in real time.
These theatrical works are intended to hold the viewers’ attention so that we can examine the layers of symbols and ornate details. This reference to abundance is a contemporary trend in Caribbean artwork, a balm to the political and global feeling of scarcity and corruption.
Shacqeel Coleby (b.1990, The Bahamas) is a multimedia artist who was born in The Bahamas but spent most of his early childhood in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Having moved back to The Bahamas as an adolescent, Shacqeel used painting, drawing and creative writing to cope with challenges in his childhood. After completing secondary studies, Shacqeel transitioned into the workforce where he taught himself how to use graphic design software and ultimately became a freelance Graphic Designer.
Shacqeel’s graphic design abilities have afforded him many professional and educational opportunities, from studying at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) and The University of Hainan (China) to consulting on major branding and marketing projects with the Bahamas Government.
Shacqeel leverages both traditional and digital mediums to create tropical and nostalgic illustrations inspired by history and folklore.
Dyah Neilson (b. 1996 Nassau, The Bahamas) graduated from York University, Toronto, Canada with a BFA in Visual Arts in 2018, after which she returned to The Bahamas. While in high school, she received the top score for the Art BJC (2008) and BGCSE (2012) examinations in the country and received the Governor General's Choice Award in the Annual Central Bank Competition in 2009. Since returning to The Bahamas in 2019, she has taken part in group exhibitions and held her first solo exhibition Love & Fear (2019) at Doongalik Studios in Nassau, The Bahamas.
Preferring fast drying mediums, she works in acrylic paint and colored pencil, and her use of a dry brush technique allows her to build up layers of color while keeping a relatively flat surface. Neilson is deeply inspired by nature, natural and social histories, and the symbolism and metaphors that are ingrained in these histories. She uses symbolism in her portraits to explore the complexities of spirituality, relationships and femininity.
The D'Aguilar Art Foundation is proud to present a selection of Roland Rose photographs in a new exhibition, TIMELESS. After his passing in 2021, Rose's works will be released in curated batches each year. TIMELESS showcases the selection of both 2021 and 2022.
Roland Rose (born 1937, Italy) has been called The Bahamas’ ‘Dean of Photography.’ He was 13 when he traded his harmonica for his first camera, and not long after that purchased his first Kodak Retinette, when Kodachrome film had just been introduced.
He moved to The Bahamas in 1946 with his English parents. His father was the gardens and property manager of one of the original residents of Hog Island, now Paradise Island.
In 1951 he joined the Bahamas Development Board (BDB) as a professional photographer. The BDB later became the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Rose’s photographs of people and scenes of The Bahamas were instrumental in attracting many visitors to the islands. He worked at the BDB for 32 years, recording during his time there, the country’s march through Independence, natural disasters and hurricanes, celebrities and secrets.
Each of Rose’s photographs, whether in color or black and white, tells a story, exposes a slice of life and the brilliant beauty of these islands.
After chronicling the country’s history for decades, Rose started holding solo photography exhibitions in 1996. His first exhibition was at the Marlborough Gallery in Nassau, followed by consecutive exhibitions at the Central Bank of The Bahamas Art Gallery, from 1996-2002. He received a Cacique Award in 1996 for his impact on tourism in the Bahamas. In 2014, he hosted an important retrospective of his photographs of children throughout the Bahamas at The Central Bank.
The D’Aguilar Art Foundation is excited to present Bella Italia, a new collection of collage and mixed media paintings by Sue Katz that reflect on her travels to Italy. For about 7 years, Katz travelled back and forth between there and The Bahamas, taking inspiration from the vibrant landscapes and people. The result is a breathtaking series of artwork that departs from her usual collage work about Bahamian social politics and focuses on her picturesque encounters with the Italian culture.
“Italy has become my happy place,” she says when she is describing the inspiration for the work. She calls the collection of artworks a “scrapbook of her experiences” that she had in cities like Florence and Rome – they are snapshots of the beauty that she encountered that is quite different from her Nassau home. In many ways, this collection is a response to the lockdown restriction that we all experienced in the past two years; the works are a rumination on times when Katz was free to travel, and the bright open landscapes she depicts reflect the joy that was hard to feel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sue Katz (Born in 1962, Boston, Massachusetts, USA) is a multidisciplinary artist known for her complex collages.She often layers colors and patterns and adds other mediums such as depth and richness to her final works. She attended Syracuse University School of Visual Arts and the Rhode Island School of Design and has a BA in Illustration. Katz also studied at the Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence, Italy.
The D’Aguilar Art Foundation is delighted to present a solo exhibition of paintings by John Paul Saddleton. Entitled Wading in the Shallows/Plunging in The Deep, this selection of work focuses on John Paul’s studies of water: coastal views and underwater landscapes.
With over 50 paintings in one room, you can see the many approaches John Paul has taken in studying the Bahamian sea. You may recognize some coastal lines and bits of familiar architecture as the artist often works in-situ or en plein-air, capturing familiar scenes in Nassau, Rose Island, Long Island and Eleuthera. More recently, the artist is interested in superimposing a digital veneer on top of a natural environment; junkanoo pattern and computer-code playfully weaves its way into clouds, or worn like a technicolour coat by a flamingo and barracuda.
Take one step back from the inquisitive subject matter and you can see that the entire exhibition reflects John Paul’s fascination with light. The entire gallery is full of dappling brush strokes and sensitive use of colour and tone. Examine any painting for some time and you will see new colours emerge, deeper layers of paint reveal themselves, and the soft glow of light bouncing around the landscape.
John Paul Saddleton’s (born 1968, Nassau, Bahamas) received a Bachelor's of Commerce from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada and continued on to Central Saint Martin's in London, England, where he studied watercolor layering, glass manipulation and advanced color theory.
In 2012, John Paul completed an ambitious 32-foot long mural for the new Lynden Pindling International Airport. His mural depicts the history of the Bahamas in condensed form, from the country’s early beginnings. In 2019, John Paul exhibited in group exhibition Transition at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.