John Beadle sculpture at TERN Gallery Nassau, Bahamas

TERN Gallery (Nassau, Bahamas) presents “Splinters and Shards,” a solo exhibition of new sculptures by Nassau-based artist and sculptor John Beadle. The exhibition runs through January 22, 2022. “Splinters and Shards” marks Beadle’s first exhibition with TERN Gallery.

In this new body of work, John Beadle sculpture combines natural and manufactured materials to create pieces that reference and warp their original forms. Beadle, who trained as a painter and printmaker, applies a similar attitude toward materiality in these sculptures. These new works are examples of Beadle’s ability to merge painting, sculpture and installation, creating a rich sense of line, dimension and texture.

Beadle’s carbonized mahogany carvings fuse a variety of natural wood textures into single compositions. In his circular wall sculptures, round indentations, thinly etched lines and curving hollows mimic the various textures found naturally in wood, allowing these different patterns to blend into one another. These natural patterns are echoed in the grain of the wood itself, which remains a prominent feature of these pieces despite the carbonization of the wood.

John Beadle contrasts his circular carvings with two freestanding, upright wooden sculptures. The natural shape of the tree is referenced in these rectangular pieces, continuing the motifs of naturalistic line work and engravings. Beadle sees all of his wood carvings as a kind of drawing—except that instead of adding onto the existing material, these carvings require him to subtract from it, as one would do to a wood block for printmaking.

A select group of John Beadle circular wall sculptures also incorporate metal, creating variance between organic and manmade resources and processes. Works like Eden place delicately carved and textured wood against brushed metal. These juxtapositions—between natural and manmade, textured and smooth, altered and untouched—are at the core of the artist’s practice.

“Splinters and Shards” also features four metal sculptures, two of which come from an older body of work. These two—Make yourself known…at the gate (2013) and However airy the enclosure they inhabit…(2013)—activate the material and aesthetic motifs of iron fences and transform them into human silhouettes. Make yourself known…at the gate also includes a small bell, which, if the title of the piece is to be taken literally, is meant to alert those on the other side of the gate to our presence. This instruction to make ourselves known brings into mind the role of iron gates as barriers to entry, leaving the viewer to question what or who is on the other side.

Ambers and Embers, 2021 Mahogany and metal 52.25 x 10 inches Courtesy of the artist and TERN Gallery
Ambers and Embers, 2021, Mahogany and metal, 52.25 x 10 inches. Courtesy of the artist and TERN Gallery.

About the artist

John Beadle (b. 1964, Nassau, Bahamas) is a multi-disciplinary artist and masterful artisan. Beadle describes universal narratives with an incredible proficiency that manifests into meticulous presentations that elevate the raw and the common materials he often uses.

Painter, sculptor, mixed media and installation artist, Beadle creates bodies of work that touch on migration, labor, security and the perception of value given to certain materials, objects and people. He creates an ambiguity between the delineation of fine arts, utilitarian artwork and craft.

Trained as a painter/printmaker, Beadle also has an impressive practice in the traditional arts of Junkanoo, having served as a principal designer and sculptor in the One Family Junkanoo group. Due to his reach and longevity, Beadle is also considered one of the seminal artists of the contemporary Bahamian art scene.

Beadle was born in Nassau in 1964, the son of a Jamaican man and a Bahamian woman. He began his formal fine art studies at The College of the Bahamas, where after having completed the core subjects of the program he transferred. He received a BFA at the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA in Painting at Tyler School of Art, Temple University, spending a period of time studying in Rome.

TERN Gallery

TERN is a new gallery in Nassau, The Bahamas, which opened its doors in December 2020. Recognizing the need for world-class contemporary art spaces to bring Bahamian artists to local and global acclaim, Amanda Coulson and Lauren Holowesko, together with Jodi Minnis, debuted TERN, creating a space of opportunity that had previously been absent in the often Eurocentric art world. TERN offers a platform for Bahamian and Caribbean artists to find international success, setting pathways for young and emerging artists to access careers in the arts beyond the prior realm of possibility.

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