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Promoting the Spirit of African Visual Art:
Afrikan Business & Cultural Quarterly
Vol. 2 NO. 16 2001
© 2001 ABAC
The internationally renowned artist Bernard Stanley Hoyes is certainly an artist with soul, "My challenge is to master unique compositions of spiritual significance. I desire to visually engross the viewer through powerful expressive works. I paint from an intuitive point of view. During this process the "spirits take possession" and a ritual theme becomes dominant. I attained my insight through my Jamaican heritage and my paternal membership in the "revival cults"(en Afro-Christian sect with strong African roots) provide clues as to why these paintings are perceived as authentic revelations."


Already a natural seasoned artist at the age of 15. Bernard left Kingston Jamaica in 1966 for New York, USA to further develop his creative talent. Then later moved to California, Los Angeles where he formalized his art education receiving a B.F.A Degree in Painting and Graphic Design. The Spiritual depth, vibrancy and value of Bernard's art have stunned audiences from all over the world wherever his work is exhibited. Some of his original works and commissions are amongst the corporate and private collections of Jamaica School of Art, Schomburg Centre for Research in Black Culture, N.Y, Capitol Records, Hollywood CA, Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Cole, Richard Pryor, just to name a few. During his first visit to the UK in July 2001, Bernard's work was showcased at a number of exhibitions in and around London. Ms. Yana Richards who was present at one of the exhibits commented, "I felt his work, which is a rarity for me when it comes to art. This is what makes me know what I'm seeing is vary real."
Bernard In UK In an interview with ABAC Bernard Hoyes talked about the development of the African visual art industry in regards to the challenges existing and new artists face in promoting their work within a European dominated market.

"It is important that artists of African descent keep our connections open to the mainstream art world through the local museums and galleries whilst developing our own cultural markets. This will allow us to keep abreast of what's happening as much as possible. We have to look at how we market ourselves as one of the main reasons why we are not making as big an impact as we should within the mainstream art word. We cannot just depend on the niche market of the black community, as we all

"I have been a creator of art, symbols of ancestral echoes since a child in Jamaica... The images I convey symbolize a culmination of these ancestral echoes brought to a classical  form. They are Contemporary, eternal in spirit are stare as praise to our existence - past, present and future. The whole thing about the Caribbean is it's so richly African. It's been a little cocoon where things African were given a chance."

 should be trying to elevate everyone with our work. When things at large happen in the world we are all affected, but we are the ones who usually don't have any ways and means to make corrections. Things just happen and we become disillusioned and cut off, hence we must pursue the mainstream as well as cur own markets so that we can affect a positive change in the world.

I am not sure if Europeans will ever fully appreciate African art, but we have to let them be aware of what we are doing.

Spirtiual Climax
Spiritual Climax

We are playing in their game on their field and we are always like the visiting team where we have to play harder and have enough support from our own community. In most instances they might choose one black artist to play within the mainstream, but we have to constantly bombard them with more than one.

In order to demonstrate the power of your work it has to transcend the culture. If you look at many of the great African or European artists what makes their art great is that it transcends the culture from which it came. If other countries and cultures notice the power and contribution of your work it gives you more magnitude. This is my belief and this is what I work at. A lot of people see my work as mainstream but in terms of me being a big time celebrated artist that may not happen in my lifetime. When people look at my work I want if to elevate their spirit by feeling a commonality with what's being expressed. For black people it's letting them understand that it's a part of their spirituality. Most of the spirituality in art tends to go the biblical route, pictures of Jesus, the saints, etc. I try to give an alternative where you can manifest the spirit by using our own culture but the dilemma for black people within the visual arts today is what most of us perceive and know is a European system and culture.

Marcus Garvey

Marcus Garvey

Traditionally Africans did not value their own arts the way Europeans do. You'll find that the Europeans value and importance of the arts from Africa is only connected through a colonial interest. Many of the historical cultural arts from Africa are now in European hands. We may not be able to go back in time and undo what's already been taken out of Africa but what we can do today is understand were our culture is right now and safeguard that for the future.

Within the mainstream art world the financial value of art does not necessarily come from the art itself but who is the financial community, how much excess cash they have and how well that communities economy is doing. After they invest so much

in real estate, the stock market, bonds, etc what else do they do? The tradition has been to invest in art. In most cases what gives the artist value is the status of the individual and the rarity of a particular artists work, which now gives the artist credibility and collectability. Art then serves as an asset to the culture that has to be invested in for prosperity.

One of the main reasons why black people don't support their own black artists enough is that the majority of black people don't value their own cultural heritage. Most of the money that is being made by black people is within the entertainment industry and they are usually the last ones to get into the black arts. The popular black media is just not doing enough to promote cur own cultural arts to raise the awareness within our communities. There are many contemporary artists like myself that need to be documented. It's definitely an educational thing. We need more expertise such as writers and philosophers critiquing and exploring what's going on within our culture whether in the UK, USA or wherever.

Today, the shift within the international arts scene is happening right here in the UK. The strongest and most celebrated artists right now that are influencing the mainstream art internationally are from the UK. Since they built the Tate Museum it Is kicking ass internationally. There are a lot of museums being built around the world but the one that houses and really shows
 the art the best is the Tate Museum.

Moonlight Spiritual
Moonlight Spiritual

Every fifty years or so the whole international art scene shifts. At the turn of the century, Paris, France was the center of the art world, by the fifties it had shift to New York and now it has shifted to the UK. The local black artist in the UK must realize this and jump onto it otherwise it will pass them by.

In order to take the black visual arts forward we have to have feeding grounds for development and showcasing of the arts. The more we have the prevalent it will become and the more of a chance the people will get behind and support it. By its very nature art is a unifying thing that rallies people together. But it only happens when we find ways of conveying it through having more places such as galleries and community centers.

If our young children cannot see the possibilities of how you can climb within the visual arts then they will have no interest. We have to provide the way to allow our children to see how they can improve and elevate themselves with this talent. The art itself will only go as far as the mind of the individual whose carrying it. If we're not elevating our minds th
en were not elevating our arts. It is really that simple."

Bernard Hoyes will be exhibiting his work at the National Black Fine Art Show
The Puck Building
Manhattan, New York, during January/February 2002.
For bookings and further information:

For UK enquires / purchases of prints / originals contact: 
102 Brixton Hill
London SW2 1AH
Tel: 020 8678 7555.

Alexandra Galleries
340 Camberwell New Road 
Camberwell Green 
London SE5 ORW
Tel: 020 7274 0900.

Flow with the Rhythm
Flow with the Rhythm

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