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Radcliffe Bailey
Black and Tan
1997






   New Jersey-born Atlanta artist Radcliffe Bailey makes large mixed-medium compositions on wood or on paper, mixing exuberant brushstrokes with collage elements, including photos of family members and friends. These dazzling works touch upon universal themes while remaining deeply personal. They frequently explore the relationship between painting and music. The large wall-hung construction called Mound Magician is a lyrical work in the shape of a fan. Small rectangular patches of yellow, red and black cause the eye to skip across the surface, which is centered by a medallion bearing the words "Mound Magician."

My favorites are the relief paintings shaped like musical instruments. Mingus is a large (109 inches tall) construction in the form of a bass fiddle. Surprisingly, the work's shape enhances rather than distracts from the lively interplay of small, green rectangle shapes, yellow lines and collage elements that bounce on the its bright blue ground. The centerpiece of the show is Black and Tan, a 106-inch-tall work resembling a grand piano hung on the wall. This humorous and witty composition is covered with brilliant patches of orange, yellow and black paint, as well as photocollage. Small light bulbs flicker at the top of the piece where the keyboard should be. This work, and the show as a whole, is exhilarating music for the eye.

 
 
 

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