Words on Bailly’s Art


I like to paint, not write about painting. Some dear friends have stated the following, and I am humbled.

“Bailly and Blanco conjure the sound and shape of experience: how history comes with its ambition and soldiers, through our yards, our cities, our dreams. Because they have given us moments of this conversation to wander among, we can ask not only what connections we find between their works, but also how their work echoes with our lives.” Melanie Almeder, Professor, Roanoke College

“John Bailly’s mixed media compositions examine the relationship of place and time, and also the artist’s growing suspicion about the legitimacy of information in current society. His densely layered compositions include a barrage of seemingly unrelated visual images that illustrate his belief that perception is subjective.” George Kinghorn, Director, University of Maine Museum of Art

“With the deft and daring strokes of the brush, Mr. John Bailly releases potent colors and images that are both alluring and awakening, with multiple layers of meanings that confront the past head-on and that challenge the young lions of today to be their brother’s and sister’s keeper. With raised arms and fists suspended in the air, the men and women, boys and girls, in these paintings tell a story of unity, determination, and love in the face of difficulties. History has taught us that whenever the people come together, the walls of oppression come tumbling down.” Akin Ogundiran, Professor, UNC Charlotte

“Bailly is no stranger to the complexities of intercultural exchange; born in England to a French father and an American mother, he has constantly been caught in between different cultures, a circumstance that has become a major theme in his art. From this starting point, “10,000 Years of Miami” is combination of the artist’s personal experiences, his connections to Miami, and his fieldwork as Deering Estate’s Artist-in-Residence. The Miami that Bailly paints is not the stereotypical palm trees and beaches, but one of remarkable multicultural exchange, diversity, and historical richness. Like his paintings, Bailly’s Miami is profound, complex, and multilayered. The pieces tell a story that isn’t clean-cut and linear, but rather one that is rich, complicated, and even messy.” Stephanie Sepulveda

“A gripping intensity pervades Bailly’s work, wherein artistry, awareness, and persistent labor revolt, attract, and awaken our sense that we are, as Sartre proclaimed, “doomed to be free,” yet with identities that depend upon the social and on scarcity for their definition – that we are children of some deity who could accept one but not the other child’s sacrifice, though each is cast in the maker’s image. That tender bridge from Cain to Abel, from Jefferson to Brown, from docker to sports star, from death to birth, self to social, mystery to truth, the boundless to the bound, from hopeless suffering to the grace of silent aspiration, from paint to canvas – here in Bailly’s finest work waltzes imagery across Senghor’s bridge, as tender as it is shaken, as shady as imposing. Here we glimpse that somewhere at heart the mourner smiles if but for the blessed realization that all are bound for the crossroads that delineate the tender bridge’s span.” Terry Rey, Professor, Temple University

“When two worlds collide, mayhem or genius can ensue. Consider the freestyle fellowship that has developed between painter John Bailly and poet Richard Blanco, and the latter rings true.” Carlos Suarez de Jesus, Miami New Times

“Your eye can wander among the interlacing veins of color and map-like shapes in Bailly’s mixed-media painting, Los Hermanos Islets. Stare at this subtle painting long enough and you will find that your memories of world maps begin to merge with what you see in his layers of paint, color and texture. Shapely reminders of the Mediterranean Sea and the coastal edge of North Africa interrupt a dense network of criss-crossing lines. Red circles stamped with the letter “U” are bold interruptions. The scattered circles create ana odd, almost threatening reminder that you’re not really looking at a map. ‘The U’s are a chain reaction of uranium when the atom bomb goes off,” says Bailly. “We build up a whole world and then destroy it for some reason.’” Eilsa Turner

“The Deering Estate provided John W Bailly with the perfect setting to explore the history of Miami, revealing how popular perception of Miami and the authentic reality of Miami are divergent. Bailly’s “10,000 Years of Miami” is the artist’s humble effort to remind us of who we are, from a historical and environmental perspective. Through richly-layered paintings he depicts natural elements and transatlantic cultural commonalities.” Kim Yantis, Cultural Arts Curator, Deering Estate

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