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The Great Benji Is Dead #435397
04/11/12 06:51 AM
04/11/12 06:51 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 82,873
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP
Celebrated Belizean painter Benjamin Nicholas died last night at the age of 82.

Nicholas was most well-known for his folkloric depictions of Garifuna life.

His larger works can be found in many major banks and businesses in Belize, but also in homes and museums all over the world - including the Smithsonian.

Today we spoke to Art Historian Yasser Musa who was a fan of Nicholas. He told us about Nicholas's importance as a painter:

Yasser Musa
"I believe has lost a great artist. Benjamin Nicholas was a man who represented many things and to my mind yes he represented the pinnacle of great Garifuna art. However it goes beyond that and he represents great Belizean art."

"I believe it came about because from he was young growing up in Boyo Creek near Barranco, he was very influence by his father's storytelling and so he had a strong sense of narrative in his head and he became the great visual narrator, so he just translate influence to art."

"I would say that he is one of the most famous and most Belizean painters. Yes he is Garifuna, but I think in the top - if you can evaluate the top ten artist of all time, certainly he has to be there. He comes from that era of the fathers of nationalism."

"His determination to realize who he was - to self-direct himself I think is a gift that not many people have. We younger artist should admire and follow his example."

"It was his loneliness that gave him this sense of creativity, this sense of wanting to make art. That his loneliness being in this moment of reflection that projected this energy and I think his deep rooted sense of being a Garifuna man and him wanting to established a Garifuna visual narrative that motivated him and kept him going for so long."

Benjamin Nicholas had been painting for over 50 years, and was an MBE. Funeral Services for will be announced later.

Channel 7

Re: The Great Benji Is Dead [Re: Marty] #435409
04/11/12 07:59 AM
04/11/12 07:59 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 82,873
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Renowned Belizean Artist, Benjamin Nicholas, dies at age 82

Benjamin Nicholas

The world of Belizean art suffered a great loss over the weekend with the passing of painter and sculptor, Benjamin Nicholas. At age eighty-two, Nicholas had been sick for about a year and was living with his daughter, Avis Nicholas in Dangriga. He also leaves behind his wife, Ysidora Nicholas and four other children as well as a host of friends and supporters. But his death will certainly touch the entire Garifuna community and the country on a whole, since he has contributed greatly to art and culture. The renowned Belizean artist has been recognized internationally and was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II. Locally, his works, which highlight the Garifuna culture, can be seen displayed on the walls of numerous homes and businesses. And in his years as an artist, Nicholas was also an inspiration to other prominent Belizean artists, including Yasser Musa, who spoke to News Five. Musa knew Nicholas well and expressed deep admiration for his talent and work ethic.


Yasser Musa, Artist

“I’d like to say first that I’m extremely sad in hearing of the passing of Benjamin Nicholas. In terms of art, he has been an important person not just to younger artists but to many generations of artists because he has been working in art from before 1970. He really took off after 1973 but he’s been a dominant figure in our artistic community for so many decades. And so I’d like to start off by giving my condolences to his family and his friends and the many people that know him and loved him. I think to understand Benjamin Nicholas, you have to understand where he came from. He came from a small place near Barranco; Boyo Creek. He grew up in Barranco but he eventually settled down and lived most of his life in Dangriga. He is an artist that has been the visual narrator of his community, the Garifuna community for many decades but I believe he is important to the national psyche of Belize because many of his images have rooted themselves in our identity and his images have given us a confidence as a people to feel special about being Belizean. And so I think Benjamin Nicholas will be greatly missed by the artistic community, by the cultural community and it is a great loss for Belize.”


Yasser Musa

Delahnie Bain

“Can you speak a bit about his style of art?”


Yasser Musa

“Well, in 1970 he got the opportunity to go and study art in Minneapolis at the school of art there. He went there until 1973. When he returned, his art took a dramatic shift. It became the type of art that we see now which is a very folkloric, narrative type of picture. And he said then that he would dedicate his work to the Garifuna culture and the Garifuna imagery that he would create and he would invent and make as his own vision because he had given a story in the book that Doctor Joseph Iyo wrote that when he went to Minneapolis, he didn’t see any type of Garifuna art. So he made a personal sacrifice to become the visual narrator for his people and I think that is an amazing testament to the man. I would say that his art, it transcends just visual works. It really makes us realize how important an artist can be in our society. So in terms of his style, it’s very vibrant, very colorful and very human style. Most of his work involve people, his people, and so I think that is an amazing accomplishment that he was able to put his stamp, his definition on what we call Belizean art today.”


Musa is encourages young artists to get a copy of the book “The Boy from Boyo Creek” to learn more about Nicholas.

Channel 5

Belize mourns the loss of Master artist Benjamin Nicholas

Belize mourns the loss of one of its greatest artistic prodigy, Benjamin Nicholas. The National Institute of Culture and History and the Institute of Creative Arts along with other organizations have offered condolences to his wife, Ysidora Nicholas, his five children and members of his extended Garinagu family. Renowned Belizean artist Benjamin Nicholas was born in 1930 in Boyo Creek near Barranco in southern Belize. He studied Art at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design at the University of Minnesota. His paintings are inspired by the daily life he experienced in his youth. His colourful paintings depict Garifuna dance, drumming and other aspects of the culture such as cassava bread making, fishing and family scenes. Ben Nicholas will be remembered as one of the great visual narrator of Garifuna origins and settlements in Belize. Benjamin Nicholas an established internationally recognized painter also received a Member of the British Empire (MBE) from Queen Elizabeth II. Many of his paintings are a part of the national collection and can be found in many of the major banks and businesses in Belize as well as in many homes and museums all over the world including the Smithsonian. PLUS TV as well extends its sincere condolence to his family, friends and supporters.


Re: The Great Benji Is Dead [Re: Marty] #435639
04/13/12 08:01 AM
04/13/12 08:01 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 82,873
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Daughter of Benjamin Nicholas remembers the life of the late artisan

Benjamin Nicholas will be remembered as one of the great visual narrators of Garifuna origins and settlements in Belize. His paintings are inspired by the daily life he experienced in his youth. His colorful paintings depict Garifuna dance, drumming and other aspects of the culture such as cassava bread making, fishing and family scenes. But there were a couple prized pieces that never had a price tag attached to them. Dangriga correspondent James Valerio visited with one of Nicholas daughter’s to find out more about the man and his art.

Daughter of the Late Benjamin Nicholas
This art here is the self portrait of the artist himself, that’s how my father drew himself, thinking with his brushes in his hands. He did that painting in 1994 and he says this painting is priceless. Up there we have his self portrait again along with his wife, my mother Isodor Nicholas, the mother of his five children. My father loved being an artist, he enjoyed doing it for a living and his art sent all of us to school and we all went to college. So my dad is a very good father who made sure that he sent his children as far as he could to school. They called him Ben, Benji, and The Artist, he especially liked when they called him The Artist. When he got his honor from the Queen, he also loved that honorary gift that was bestowed upon him.

Benjamin Nicholas funeral is set for Saturday April 21, at 2pm at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Dangriga.


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