Gallery secures Hydes’ work through Olde donation

| 29/10/2020 | 32 Comments

(CNS): The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands (NGCI) has acquired a collection of work by Bendel Hydes, widely regarded as the founding father of Cayman contemporary art. Despite the importance of his work to the local artistic landscape, the gallery has never been able to afford to buy much of it. After recent fundraising efforts to try to do so were thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic, local philanthropist Susan Olde stepped in to foot the bill.

In a press release this week announcing the acquisition of the collection, National Gallery officials said that during the curation of a career-defining exhibition at the gallery at the end of last year, they determined the need to catalogue and study this retired artist as well as secure more of his work.

The four-month exhibition welcomed over 6,000 visitors and solidified his legacy as the forefather of Caymanian visual art, said NGCI Director and Chief Curator Natalie Urquhart. “Yet it became very apparent during this process that despite Bendel being considered Cayman’s premier visual artist to date, his work was very underrepresented in the Cayman Islands National Art Collection.”

Urquhart explained this was primarily down to budget restrictions for collecting artwork, as well as Bendel living and working in New York City since the early 1980s. But with Hydes’ no longer painting due to failing health, the collection and preservation of his work took on a new urgency, she said.

A smaller exhibition opened in January this year in order to raise the funds needed to bye a collection of Hyde’s work that would represent his career, including early work from the Tropical Plant Series of the 1980s, his move to Abstract Expressionism around 1990, the nautical mapping series of the mid-1990s, through to his Luminescent Abstraction.

But that exhibition was soon closed due to the pandemic, which also caused dramatic financial losses for the gallery and the opportunity to secure the collection appeared lost. But NGCI chairperson and patron, Susan Olde, stepped in to help with a generous donation to the acquisition fund.

“It is impossible to overstate the importance of Bendel Hydes within the history of Caymanian art,” Olde said. “He has provided inspiration to generations of Caymanian artists and paved the way for the thriving art scene which we enjoy today. Subsequently, it is vital that his work finds a safe home in the National Art Collection, where it can now be visited and studied by current and future generations.”

Several of the newly acquired artworks are already on display in the National Gallery’s new permanent collection exhibition, “Saltwater in Their Veins”. Others will continue to rotate through the exhibition in coming months.

The National Gallery is open from Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm, and admission is free.


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Comments (32)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous 30/10 @11:28pm – Thanks for your opinion and thankfully that’s all it is. Art is like beauty – “in the eye of the beholder”. What would you say about Jackson Pollock’s? By your evaluation his (which is now deemed priceless) would be paint-rags!

  2. Anonymous says:

    The negative comments sound racist.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t think so…

      Sounds like teen envy to me, bundled in heaps of jealousy.

      Love yah still yuh old bugger.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I love art and come from a artistic family I don’t do art but I know good art when I see it sorry but his art just don’t do nothing to me. Over the years there are two pc of his work that has the interpretation on it and i always look at it and say WTH this really is as it truly was only paint splashed on canvas with a mighty high$$$$$$$$ figure

  4. KSS says:

    I understand he must earn a living and is dependent on the sale of his work but surely he could afford to “donate” a piece or two the NG?! He is, after all, Caymanian and the Gallery is a place for our children to explore and experience many mediums.
    Thank you Mrs Olde for stepping up yet again – your generosity is appreciated.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Shame on some of the remarks.certainly some of you did not get it. That is what is wrong with some of us we cannot appreciate our own. It always take a foreigner to see our talents. As it says a prophet is not welcome in his own country. That is why nothing has been done to preserve Cayman’s art and culture.Shame Shame on us.

  6. David S. says:

    So you know Bendal Hydes is an international renowned Caymanian Artist. Let’s say he’s getting up there with Vicelli, Vicellio if not Michael Angelo. Bendal is famous! I’m surprised he’s in Cayman still thought he’d be in New York basking in all that fame and fortune Hollywood celebs love to spend on art, even if it’s does manure, so don’t be so hard on the guy, were very proud of Mr Bendal Hydes..

  7. Anonymous says:

    Try a landscape or a profile, bro’.
    Only fools would call this art.
    I have been around artists and the amount of work that they put into their work is phenomenal.
    Seriously, 10 grand for 10 minutes is just taking the piss.

    • Anonymous says:

      A comment on art by one such as you is just drinking the piss. Please go back to just trying to impress your friends.

  8. anon says:

    I wonder what sort of prices he was asking, probably explains why so much of it was unsold. I have to admit I’m not a fan of contemporary art even if it comes from a son of the soil.

    • David S. says:

      So you know Bendal Hydra is international renowned Caymanian Artist. Let’s say he’s getting up vthere with
      Vicelli, Vicellio if not Michael Angelo.
      Bendy is famous! I’m surprised he’s in Cayman still thought he’d be in New York barking in all that fame and money.

  9. Anonymous says:

    If my daughter painted that at school, she would maybe get a C for effort.
    Contemporary art? Is that for artists who cannot paint?
    If you say you cannot feel the emotion of the artist, they look at you like you are some kind of loon.

    This reminds me of the time I went to see Hockney’s “work” up in an old mill in Yorkshire.

    I tried to like it it, honest, but when I was at school there were real paintings on the wall of people with faces and trees and landscapes.

    Sorry, but it would seem that Olde has more money than sense, but fair play to them, if they can get the dosh, all is well. I am sure she won’t miss it.

    • Lomart says:

      It’s just not your taste; not your style. Couldn’t you just leave it at that?

    • Nanny Taught Me says:

      Just because you dont “get it”, doesn’t mean you should be so quick to dismiss it. Learning to understand and appreciate art can take as much time and effort as learning to understand a new language. Unfortunately, in this age of instant gratification, so many people don’t give it the time and effort it deserves.

      • Say it like it is says:

        1.45 I take it you are referring to Mandarin, but even I find it difficult to appreciate a white square set in a black background- that is certainly Mandarin to me.

      • Anonymous says:

        If he spent any time on it, I might appreciate it. It smacks of laziness and very little talent.
        Why don’t we celebrate real artists in Cayman…..if there are any?
        I knew a young lady that used to work at the art gallery. She had a portfolio of fantastic work from pencil work to water colors. Each piece of work was instantly recognizable as to what it was.
        This “art” is just tosh.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t be sorry, art is not for everyone.

  10. Anonymous says:

    What a generous lady. Cayman is lucky to have her.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Ms. Olde for all that you do for the people of Cayman. You are a shining example of the type of person Caymanians wish to have join our community. Respecting and appreciating our people and contributing in some way, large or small, financially or otherwise, to help Cayman continue to be a great place to live for all. That is all that we ask. Thank you!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Truly… Caymanian!
    Thank you for once again showing heart and devotion to these islands.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Susan olde truly have a heart of gold ! I wish we had 10 more like her on this rock

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Mrs. Olde. You are a Cayman Treasure!

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