Jamaican artist shows the world how it's done
Published: Sunday | December 13, 2009
Visionary master Bernard Hoyes. - Contributed Photos
Jamaican-born Bernard Hoyes, master painter, is among the many Caribbean nationals who have served their countries well on foreign soil. Now residing in California, Hoyes is among the most widely collected and exhibited contemporary artists internationally. Through his art, many have been able to connect with Jamaican culture and people.
A noted painter, printmaker and sculptor, Hoyes recently began exploring the principles of etching techniques. Through his intimate interpretations, Hoyes earned favourable criticism from noted critics, such as Jamaican-French resident Alicia McKenzie. Among the magazines that feature his work are Afrikan Business and Cultural Quarterly based in London, which featured one of his exhibitions in Singapore.
'Flow with the Rhythm' by Bernard Hoyes.
Born 1951, Hoyes grew up in a close-knit family, raised by his paternal grandmother. From age nine, he was defined as an artist, already possessing a deep understanding of painting and carving.
Growing up, Hoyes was fascinated with the activities at markets and fishing villages and balanced this with an exposure to Jamaica's cults and religions, especially the Rastafarians, while growing up in a balm-yard.
Meanwhile, Hoyes had to contend with crime in Jamaica's capital city. Gang wars, economic poverty, imbalance in justice and social standings made it even easier for the artist to create impacting visual essays with his paintbrush. Learning common street sense sharpened his wits and made his ability to interpret his surroundings even stronger and more focused.
He studied at the Junior Art Centre of the Institute of Jamaica and at 15, was off to his New York life with his dad.
After settling into formal art training in New York, his work earned for him more than he had envisioned.
In New York, he attended Thomas Jefferson High School and Art Student League evening school. By 1968, he received a Ford Foundation scholarship to a summer programme in Saxton River, Vermont. There, he was among 60 seniors chosen for high school in New York. After the summer of 1968, he took up another scholarship and entered Vermont Academy in the fall semester. Two years later, he graduated from the academy and studied for a bachelor of fine arts at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland.
From his life experiences, Hoyes produced works significant to his development, including the Rag series. The Rag series include signature pieces, such as 'Matriarchal Tenticles', 'Spirit of Constant Struggle', 'She Found Wings in Rags', 'Struggle' and 'Trickster' which was his first attempt at changing the perception of starving artists.
By the 1980s to 1990s, Hoyes had garnered new collectors because of his style of interpreting and combining his influences from Jamaica, African-Caribbean roots, and his immersion in black American culture.
Now three decades later, he has earned the rank of master, creating his own distinct style to be adopted by younger artists.