Eugene Hyde (1931-1980

Coming from fairly humble beginnings, Eugene Hyde was born in Cooper’s Hill, Portland and raised by his mother Ivy Larman, stepfather and grandmother. His father John Hyde, had died when he was a boy, but it is possible that it was from his father - a photographer - that Hyde nurtured an early desire to become a commercial artist. After his father’s death in 1944, the family moved to Spanish Town where Eugene attended Beckford and Smith’s (now St Jago High School).

Hyde began his career in advertising as a graphic apprentice at Art and Publicity Company in Kingston but after five years he decided to travel and study. He completed his first degree in Advertising Design at the Art Center, Los Angeles, California and having won a scholarship, he went on to complete his Masters at the Los Angeles County Institute. It was here that Hyde came under the influence of Rico Lebrun a graphic artist, painter, sculptor, teacher and writer who was an incisive force on West Coast artists of the 1940s and 50s. The effect of Lebrun’s influence registered immediatly in the quality of Hyde’s drawing and more latterly in his drawing-painting technique that was to be a distinctive feature of his work.

Hyde returned to Jamaica in the 1960s, initially as Art Director with his old firm Art and Publicity, however he would soon leave to establish his own company and extend himself into other areas of the fine arts, teaching private classes, lecturing at the Jamaica School of Art, exhibiting and co-founding the Contemporary Artists Association, along with the like-minded dynamic artists Karl Parboosingh and Barrington Watson. Unlike his partners, Eugene Hyde was a quiet systematic worker, but he too held a strong commitment to encouraging modern approaches to painting in Jamaica, It was through his efforts that a number of internationally famous artists exhibited at the CAA including Roger Bruinekool, Richard Gorman Powers and Erwin de Vries. Hyde was also the first artist to thoroughly develop the idea of working in series: his Flora, Sunflower, Spathodia and Crotons series all executed between 1969 and 1973 introduced this concept and brought him public recognition. Choosing familiar flowers and colours he pushed his examination of their forms to abstraction. It was an approach that more conservative local viewers were able to understand that helped an appreciation of modern art principles in Jamaica. Hyde would later follow his flora studies with other successful series including Colour is a Personal Thing and Casualties both executed in 1978, shortly before his death in 1980. PA-S