Bahamian self-taught international artist Amos Ferguson, whose unique and intuitive paintings are known all over the world, died Monday morning after a long battle with dementia. Ferguson, one of the most famous Bahamian artists, was 89.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham described the late painter as a cultural icon. “He is perhaps our country’s most successful artist with works in private collections and galleries around the world,” said Ingraham in a press statement. “Mr. Ferguson, a talented house painter, unschooled in the fine arts, reportedly began painting pictures following the encouragement of a nephew who dreamt of his uncle’s hidden talent,” noted Ingraham. Ferguson, who was known to “paint by faith, not by sight”, said he often turned to the Bible for inspiration.
The art world also expressed sadness yesterday over the passing of Ferguson.
“We have lost one of our national treasures, a giant of a man,” said renowned sculptor and artist Antonius Roberts. “He is not only a world-class artist who hails from The Bahamas, he is the most respected Bahamian artist in the world. I’m not sure that we’ll ever find another Amos Ferguson in our midst—from humble beginnings, painting by faith and not by sight. I mean his faith has taken him to the world. He is just a perfect example of someone who was just true to himself, true to this talent, true to his God and it opened many doors, not only for him, as he has brought a lot of positive attention to The Bahamas,” he added. Roberts said he only wished that the country could have done more to honor Ferguson while he was still alive.
Erica James of the National Art Gallery Bahamas offered similar sentiments. “I think this is a sad day for us. I’m going to miss him quite a bit,” said James. “I knew (Ferguson) since I was a child. I think he was one of the first people I ever saw painting. In a lot of ways, I think he was a quintessential artist. He believed in self expression. He believed in his own division for his work and he just lived that. He didn’t care what anyone said or thought, just firmly believed in what he was doing and he followed that through to the end. I found him to be a very spirited person and [a] spiritual and passionate person,” she added.
James revealed that she is attempting to acquire Ferguson’s home for the permanent installation of his work for the National Art Gallery. “So I really hope that it goes through now that he’s passed and we can really proceed with that,” she said.
Ferguson’s work has been featured in a two-year traveling exhibition staged by the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Hartford Connecticut—the the oldest art gallery in the U.S. Ferguson first appeared on the international art scene in the mid-1980s, and became known as an “intuitive supernova.” Within years, Ferguson’s work had won him many admirers and had garnered the interest of collectors the world over.
Born in the Forest Exuma in 1920, Ferguson maintained a small farm and assisted his father in the carpentry trade before moving to Nassau. While in Nassau, he moved on to house painting — a passion that he had since he was a little boy, he said. Ferguson’s early work was purchased by tourists through a straw market vendor, the late Beatrice Ferguson, who later became his wife.
In 1991, he received the MBE award for his outstanding contribution in the field of art for over 40 years. He also received an E. Clement Bethel award in 1995 for excellence in artwork.
For the original news report and additional information go to http://www.thenassauguardian.com/national_local/347052415507930.php
You can find the paintings above, “Drug Dealers” and “Rich Young Man” at http://www.galeriebonheur.com/Caribbean/amosferguson/amos.htm