States Of Being

From The Cabinet

Nov 17 – Dec 22, 2005
513 West 20th Street New York, NY 10011

Press Release


From the Cabinet: Reflections of Winding Roads

November 17- December 22, 2005

Opening reception: Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Jack Shainman Gallery is proud to present From the Cabinet: Reflections of Winding Roads, an exhibition of new work by Radcliffe Bailey.In this series Bailey’s speaks with a potent physical and aesthetic voice.The works, individually and collectively, offer the artist’s explorations, ruminations and conversations with the personal and cultural narrative of African-American history and its relation to the global African Diaspora.

Bailey’s constructed panel paintings have grown in recent years to take on the character of cabinets. Small windows that once opened up in the paintings to reveal photographs set back from the painted surface now assume preeminence.Like medicine cabinets, Bailey’s paintings manipulate transparency, mirrors and storage.For Bailey, “memory is medicine.” And screened, printed, opaque, and translucent photographs are integrated in the work along with the artist’s vocabulary of marks and imagery to form a multi-layered co-mingling of stories.The physical and cultural meaning of objects and materials is central to Bailey’s aesthetic.Color is not only paint, but papers stained by tobacco leaves and with actual indigo plants brought to Atlanta by a friend of the artist from West Africa.

One work takes the form of a baby grand piano, its keys covered in black wax.Under the clear top, planets sit among the strings in homage to Thelonius Monk, Sun Ra, and Duke Ellington, three touchstones in Bailey’s artistic lineage. Another work, the exhibition’s largest piece, is a meditation on physical forces and the power of water.Growing in the artist’s mind since he was caught in a flood two years ago in Texas, the work locates itself in events of the past year: the Southeast Asian Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the 1927 flooding of the Mississippi River and its flooding again during more recent years.Within these images of water is the image of a large canoe, its paddles painted with a luminescent automobile paint referencing traditional funereal ceremonies or West Africa where a king would be placed upon his death in a large canoe and sent down the river to sea.Bailey’s work seeks to tie the present day into history through culture’s incorporation of natural processes.

Another work, possibly a self-portrait of the artist, includes paint brushes layered in black wax.A small forked branch painted bright red sits at the center of the work.The colors red and black reference Eshu, the Yoruba “trickster” deity.Eshu is the guardian of the crossroads and mediator of opposites.

Currently a work from the permanent collection of the High Museum, Atlanta is on view in their new Renzo Piano addition. Recent group exhibitions include “The Whole World is Rotten: Free Radicals and the Gold Coast Slave Castles of Paa Joe”, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY (2005), “Common Ground, Discovering Community in 150 Years of Art”, Selections from the collection of Julia Norrell, Corcoran Museum of Art, Washington, DC (2004), “Hair Stories”, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL traveling to Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, Arizona (2003-04), “Black President: The Art and Legacy of Fela Aikulapo-Kuti,” curated by Trever Schoonmaker opened at the New Museum, New York, NY and traveled to Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA, Barbican Art Gallery, London, UK (2003-04).

Gallery hours are Tuesday – Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm. For additional information and photographic material please contact the gallery at