Where When How — Summer 2017
Change Language:
Island Perspectives
Sophie Newstead


InsPIraTIoN lIes aT The HearT, aNd WheN you Walk into a gallery or space of artwork, there’s nearly always one piece that catches your eye, sparks your curiosity… draws you to it. That piece, come one sunny Wednesday in Grace Bay, was Benada oduma’s, lady lover. A large acrylic painting, it merged striking block colours with bold shapes into a beautifully abstract approach to a classic subject: the woman. These features not only define this canvas, but a signature style recurrent in all Benada’s colourful creations, and that over the past 20 years has placed him at the forefront of art in the TCI.

Benada, a Haitian artist with a talent for painting and a killer eye for combining colours, realised his passion in Haiti and his style in Providenciales, attributing his distinctive style to the creative mentoring of one man. “I met Mr Titus de Boer in the Turks and Caicos, where at the time I was drawing mainly biblical scenes and colonial houses, and over time, local landscapes and beach scenes. I always wanted to paint other styles that were more personal and universal, and Mr de Boer inspired me to use bright colours and bold forms, and to make colour the charm of my painting.” With a clear direction and courage to his convictions, Benada finally found his place in painting. “I returned to the gallery with a canvas in my hand, a painting portraying my then-fiancée (now wife with three children), worshipping and in contemplation. It was beyond a shadow of a doubt one of the best pieces of work I have ever done, called ‘Worshipping lady’. This new style inspired me so much more.”

Benada, over 20 years in the TCI, has honed two main inspirations: women in different states of mind, and Turks and Caicos’ natural landscape. “I have great respect for women so that leads me to express their joy, misery and sorrow though my paintings, and the beauty of the Turks and Caicos inspires me a lot in my art.” Benada’s creative interpretation of his subjects, using thick lashings of elongated bright colours and fragmented block shapes, is what applies his signature stamp to the final aesthetic… an aesthetic that’s slightly abstracted from what’s in front of you. The result is striking visuals and stunning colour combinations, “Just like tone and rhythm is vital for a song, the colours of my paintings are vital for my art.”

Where does he see himself in the near future? “I’d like the opportunity to help young children in the Turks and Caicos who are interested in art to develop their skills. I would also like more coaching and exposure to be able to apply practical knowledge in the business of art. I also have plenty other ideas that I’d still like to develop, and as an artist the creativity is unexplainable for me unless it's painted.”

Benada’s expert curation of colour, over nearly three decades, has accompanied him from Haiti, to Providenciales, to now the walls of art lovers armed with a taste for bold paintings and striking visuals. Not only does his work speak to lovers of traditional Caribbean art, but fans of abstract styles reminiscent of the movements like cubism. In adopting this style by acquainting bold colour with classic subjects, Benada transcends the island’s parameters, and shows that from his wife as his first muse, inspiration really does lie at the heart.

Benada Oduma: Artist | Artwork stockists: Provo Art: The Regent Village, Grace Bay, and Paradise Arts: The Saltmills, Grace Bay, Providenciales