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Kendal Hanna is One of the Bahamas’ First Abstract Painters

The painter is leading the way for other Bahamian artists.

May 4, 2018
Kendal Hanna
Brigidy Bram, a documentary, tells Kendal Hanna’s story of trials and triumphs in life and art. Lisa Wells

Kendal Hanna went from post office employee to painter in the late 1950s, after the arrival of Chelsea Pottery founder David Rawnsley in the Bahamas changed the Nassau native’s career path. Hanna became an apprentice at the art studio and saw some of his first abstract paintings there — Rawnsley’s. Adding to that experience, Hanna also encountered the abstract work of muralist John St. John, and an inspiration was born.

“It was a treasure I found,” Hanna says of painting, a craft that he passionately pursued and learned. Now, with oils, acrylics or watercolors, ­Hanna combines abstraction and expressionism when creating on his canvases. He says he “abandons naturalism for a style of expression coming from within my subconscious mind [rather] than from finding expression outwardly.”

Abstract painting is now common around the islands, Hanna says. “Maybe my coming on the scene could have had some influence.” He adds, “The art community is small now, but it will grow.”

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Hanna’s work can be seen via appointment at Duke Wells’ studio, Duke of Nassau, or at the Baha Mar Resort, where some are on display.

How would you define abstract expressionism?

Abstract art is aesthetics residing in forms and colors, entirely independent of the subject of the work of art. Abstract expressionism is a combination of abstract art and expressionism. It is, as such, automatic painting, allowing the subconscious to express itself.

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What challenges have you faced, and how did you overcome them?

I was hospitalized in my early beginnings of becoming an artist. Art helped me in my recovery. The more I create, the more I heal. Art saved my life.

What is your average day like?

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I am always painting in my mind — and when I’m called to paint, I’m inspired. The experience is like a spiritual high. When the institutions have exhibitions, I show [my work] along with the other artists.

The To-Do List

The Fort Arawak Cay EcoTourism
Fort Charlotte on New Providence island is 100 acres, has a moat and many underground passageways. Arawak Cay is also referred to as “Fish Fry.” It’s a hot spot to grab local cuisine, including conch salad. Clifton Heritage National Park has snorkeling, hiking, turtle watching and numerous historical sites to explore.
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More Cruising and Chartering

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