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Portfolios: March 2013 Curator Review Art, African Diaspora
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I confess to looking up the title of your piece – Corvus Corax - not recognizing it as the common name for the Raven. The Latin moniker is fitting for this image, which seems to embody a medieval promotion or curse. The architectural elements are nicely echoed in the background and top arch of the painting, leaving the contrasting darkness on the bird. The convoluted and twisted patterns in the feathers further keep emphasis on the raven, and imbue it with mystical or legendary properties. The framing device around the work appears to have a very different and distinctive texture, and I’m wondering if this is a physical contrast of surface or a feat of illusionistic space. End of Day is another provocative work- the jewel tones of the fish and deep blue surrounds beautifully hold the celebratory male figure in a position of magic, where symbolic elements meet the corporeal world (could he be the Orisha Olokun, associated with the sea?)
But I believe the painting entitled Lower Ninth Ward is the most haunting in the series of works that address the African Diaspora, because of its emotive power and contemporary context. The drowned bodies confront the viewer in the space with their stillness and unflinching depiction of death. But as a viewer I’m also not completely repelled by the scene, being lured in to the space with transitions of bright aqua and deep ultramarine. The partially submerged buildings still float in the space, with their foundations giving way to the same expansive pool of blue that holds the lifeless human bodies. I notice the most intense color is the yellow-orange sky; a fiery horizon finally turning darker overhead. This is ultimately a difficult work to view. The painting confronts the viewer with harsh realities in a stylistic manner that’s similar to your other images of magical realism. But we can’t deny the event. This is an incredible power for an artist- to make us see what we don’t want to see, and yet make us grateful for the experience.
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