Creating magic through art: Naeema Bacchus

Naeema Bacchus at work on one of her pieces.

When contemporary artist Naeema Bacchus’s passion and skill come together on a canvas, the result is illuminating and it draws collectors.

Naeema’s art has been speaking volumes for some time now. Before The Scene even met this talented woman, her work had been seen hanging on the wall of a collector, standing out in its hues of blue.

While the former St Rose’s High student learnt a bit of art in school, most of what she knows today was self-taught and from all indications, her talent is a natural gift.  Naeema describes herself as a loner being an only child until she was seven and in the process she sought to express herself through art. While at school, she learnt calligraphy and tie-dyeing. According to the artist at 16, she realized that art was her passion and this was what she wanted to do but she has been painting from the age of three, which is as far back as she remembers.

She did not have a painting set and always yearned for the day she would get one but made do with her mother’s food colouring. However, her parents never saw art as important and pushed for her to focus on Mathematics and English. Nonetheless, her desire for art burned and in time her first art project turned out to be her bedroom which she painted in her favourite turquoise then added a variety of other colours for the inspirational quotes she later decorated her walls with.

By age 17, she was teaching art at the Isa Islamic School.

Her artistic journey took a turn for the better when she left the shores of Guyana for St Martin at the age of 19; that same year she sold her first painting. After this there was no turning back. By 21 she was co-owner of the Island Art Gallery, where her work was displayed.

“One of the more distinctive moments in my life as an artist was seeing my paintings on the walls of my gallery at the age of 21,” Naeema said. To date, the artist has created more than 400 pieces. Her work hangs in the homes of collectors in Guyana, Barbados, the USA, France, Italy, Germany, Russia, Canada and in other parts of the Caribbean. Of these her best customers remain an American couple who whenever they vacationed in St Martin would get one of her pieces to take back home with them.

Who inspires her? She said: “I am inspired by many interesting people I meet. Sometimes I’m having a conversation and someone says something and it sparks my imagination and I go home and put that on canvas.” She is also fascinated by the unknown and many of her paintings demonstrate this as she attempts to create a new world for the collector. Other paintings tell of a girl stuck in time, longing for the home she left in her homeland.

Apart from admirers of her work Naeema is also inspired by Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo and Monet.  Her most challenging piece and one of her best to date is called ‘Enigma’; it is an expression of her deepest and most complicated thoughts on the flow of life and finding balance.

The art industry has brought with it challenges as well. Naeema found that collectors would go looking for older and more experienced artists and that many buyers were partial to male artists. She began to find ways of working around this. “…I always have conversations with potential customers and we would find something interesting to talk about. We’d discuss the paintings, have a few laughs and I suppose that’s what helps to break the stereotype that art is a man’s world.”

Art for Naeema has been a mode through which she expresses herself, where she finds her inner self. She works mostly with acrylics and most of her paintings are painted with a palette knife instead of a brush. “Art is a very emotional for me. My paintings are filled with flavours of every emotion. It’s an outlet for my feelings, a way to free myself. I think what makes [what I do] successful is that people can feel the emotions of each piece and find it relatable to their own feelings or experiences,” she said.

If she could meet with someone who would change the outcome of her life, it would not be any of the artists mentioned though she would be grateful for such an opportunity. Instead, she would want to go back to when she was much younger, a girl who conformed to what others thought she should be and tell her to be herself – then she would have found herself sooner. It is reflecting on this that Naeema admonishes aspiring artists, “….It’s not going to be easy following your passion but it will always be worth it.”

She sees herself touring and exploring the world, and expanding on her art.

The 32-year-old is a wife and a mother to two little boys who send her into creative mode sometimes. They too, though still in kindergarten, have already begun painting bold little pieces, following in their mother’s footsteps.

She currently works a day job having only this past January migrated to the US but is keeping an eye open with the aim of finding the ideal spot to set up her gallery.

Her free time finds her spending time with her boys, swimming and exploring.

Naeema can be contacted on Instagram @bacchusartistry, Facebook: NaeemaBacchusFineArt,  https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/naeema-bacchus.html, or artistnnbacchus@yahoo.com

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