Bahamian artist John Beadle explores natural forms, lines & textures in new collection of sculptures

Bahamian artist John Beadle explores natural forms, lines & textures in new collection of sculptures
“Opposing Ripples” (2021) by John Beadle. Carbonized mahogany and metal, 30.5 x 5.75. (JOHN BEADLE & TERN GALLERY)

Beadle will present his solo exhibition “Splinters and Shards” at TERN Gallery starting Dec 11

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — TERN Gallery is excited to announce “Splinters and Shards”, a solo exhibition of new sculptures by Nassau-based artist and sculptor John Beadle.

The exhibition runs from December 11, 2021, to January 22, 2022, with an artist reception on Saturday, December 11, from 4 to 7pm.

John Beadle.

“Splinters and Shards” marks Beadle’s first exhibition with TERN. In this new body of work, Beadle 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.

The artist 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 Beadle’s 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.

John Beadle (b. 1964, Nassau, Bahamas) is a multi-disciplinary artist and masterful artisan. Painter, sculptor and 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.

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.