Indepth Arts News: |
"Radcliffe Bailey: The Magic City"
2001-03-23 until 2001-05-12
Forum for Contemporary Art
St. Louis, MO,
The first comprehensive exhibition of the work of artist
Radcliffe Bailey, titled, The Magic City, opens at the Forum for
Contemporary Art (FCA), Friday, March 23 and runs through May 12.
Bailey, known for his large-scale, multimedia paintings and assemblages
created around aspects of African and African American culture, makes his
Midwest debut with this exhibition.
The exhibition comprised mostly of Bailey‚s paintings and works on
paper also includes a 1,000-square-foot installation designed
specifically for The Magic City and modified for the St. Louis site. The
installation creates a unique environment that tells the story of this
African American artist‚s identity and history. It combines photographic
images and found objects, and includes local idioms, historical facts and
cultural references unique to St. Louisans of African American heritage.
The installation encompasses wall painting, sculpture and sound, and
allow viewers to physically pass through it.
Paintings in the exhibition integrate Bailey‚s signature style of
combining aspects of his African American cultural experience with
components of expressionist painting. He draws upon a range of sources:
historical events, popular culture, stately (yet unidentified) old family
photographs, family memories and Yoruba traditions. By titling his
exhibition The Magic City, Bailey deliberately invokes a historical
moniker of Birmingham, while also referencing the pioneer free-jazz
musician Sun Ra. To create the paintings for The Magic City, Bailey
reviewed and photographed objects in the African collection at Birmingham
Museum of Art. The artist combined the photographed sculpture and
statuary with his ancestral photographs and other imagery to layer and
Birmingham Museum of Art Curator of Painting and Sculpture David Moos,
Ph.D., describes Baileys work, . . . he creates dense pictorial fields
that function like biographical maps to the historic past. Incorporating
elements of collage and text, Bailey works in an improvisational manner
orchestrating and integrating veiled and obvious meanings into his
painting. The ecology of his work may include symbolic elements such as
water from New Orleans, Georgia clay, or a concealed piece of cotton.
Each painting engages multiple levels of meaning.
Bailey will conduct a hands-on workshop with the Forum for Contemporary
Art student program, New Art in the Neighborhood (NAN). As a student
Bailey participated in a similar art program geared toward inner city
youth in Atlanta.
A catalogue of the exhibition, the first comprehensive publication of
Baileys work, will be available. The Magic City opened at the
Birmingham Museum of Art and will travel to The Art Museum of the
University of Houston following its showing at FCA. The exhibition was
organized by the Birmingham Museum of Art under the direction of David
Moos, Ph.D., and is the first comprehensive museum exhibition of Bailey‚s
work. The exhibition will feature eight major paintings, five
large-scale works on paper and one room-sized installation.
Also on view March 23 through May 12 will be FCA Projects artist Su
Sunny Park. Park will create an interactive installation that will
occupy the stairwell of the Forum for Contemporary Art. The complexity
of her work, which suggests the circle-of-life, will engage and mystify
The Forum for Contemporary Art enriches and educates the St. Louis
community by presenting a broad range of media and topics representing
todays artists. Its goal is to engage people of all ages in the
appreciation and interpretation of contemporary art and ideas. In 2002
the museum will open a new building designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied
Works Architecture, Portland, Ore. It will be located at the corner of
Spring Avenue and Washington Boulevard in St. Louis, Mo.