Chantal Bethel is a woman whose bright spirit is immediately apparent in her eyes. Petite, well dressed and with a passion for earrings that betray her artistic passion, she is recognised as one of Grand Bahamas finest artists.
With a long and colourful resume she is well established in The Bahamas and has a well earned international reputation.
I went to her studio to have a sneak preview prior to her January 2008 show- “Paradise?”
The work, as she requests, speaks for itself, touching our hearts and souls in a language beyond words, but I wanted to know a little more about the creator of this sublime interpretation of life and nature.
Artists often open doors for artists, and taking a concept or a style that can then be moulded into ones own, is quite common and its interesting to see who has influenced an artist.
My first question then, who are your favourite artists?
“I have a few favourites. Bernard Sejourne. I subscribe to his philosophy - Sejourne personified the “School of Beauty“ a movement in Haiti. Sejourne believed that there is enough ugliness around him and prefers to express the beautiful and pleasant side of life ignoring harsh realities that most Haitians endure daily. I love his style. In his works he attempted to capture feelings, beauty, elegance and grace. He loved to paint women. Movement which he created by his uses of fluid lines is very prominent in his work. Salvator Dali: I think he was the most brilliant artist that ever existed although crazy. Rembrandt: I love the depth of his work. Michelle Samerjan. I love her spirituality and her connectedness to the past”
Chantal’s work is inspired from life; she uses her internal landscape and emotions as source. As she says “I must feel first before I can paint.”
Her favourite part of the process is being immersed in “that zone” when “I can ignore everything else around me.”
Reflecting this almost spiritual aspect to creating art, she expounds that singing, next to painting is the closest she gets to God and her purpose in painting is an almost visceral need to create, and so discover herself.
With such a personal take on creating art I wanted to know why she thought art is important to society, she responds frankly-
“There is no language barrier with visual art, for me it is very important. Frankly, the world would be in pain without art! A friend once told her:”Politicians don’t change the world, artists do!”
With that in mind I wanted to know where she envisioned herself in the future:
“To keep doing art and continue to discover....” Interested in history and with a love to learn about people their culture and their soul Chantal is on a path of discovery already!
Being an artist - images her supreme language I wondered what had been the most visually exciting moment she had witnessed. The answer brings us back to her source of inspiration – life - seeing her first born child!
With an ambition to have a Museum built on Grand Bahama, and to be a “great artist”, this is just a moment in the story of Chantal Bethels life!
You can view Chantal's website at www.chantalbethel.com
About the author: Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Susan Moir Mackay is a professional artist with a B.A. (Hons) in Art and Design from Edinburgh College of Art. She is an impassioned advocate of art and has a deep abiding belief that art benefits individuals and communities. Susan has travelled extensively, observing art in all its forms and has invested much of her time to art education projects, as well as developing her own art works and exhibitions. Susan currently lives in Freeport with her two children, Fiona and Dylan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org