Persephone de Miami 2022

John William Bailly
Persephone de Miami, 2022 (Flower Wars)
Oil on canvas
86 x 118 inches / 220 x 300 centimeters
Courtesy of the Artist

“The oldest archeological site in Southeast Florida is the Cutler Fossil Site at the Deering Estate. Emslie and Morgan (1995) describe this burial area, noting that human remains, representing three adults and two children were recovered from the deposit, about 1 m below the surface.” National Register of Historic Places. Below is an image of the Cutler Fossil Site based on Bailly’s In Situ Cutler Fossil Site drawings.

John William Bailly. Cutler Fossil Site (In Situ), 20 May 2020. Graphite on Arches paper. 7 x 10 in / 18 x 26 cm.

As the Cutler Fossil Site is a Solution Hole, one must descend into the Earth to enter the dwelling of our ancestors. To Bailly this descent became a passage into the Underworld-an entrance to the Land of the Dead. This was not Hell, associated with evil, but rather a mythological place in which the dead reside. The Cutler Fossil is the Land of the Paleolithic ancestors of Miami.

In order to reflect our passage from the Land of the Living to the Land of the Dead, Bailly decided to represent Persephone. The parallel is further reinforced by the Cutler Fossil Site contact of the Tropical Hardwood Hammock surrounding the solution hole and the predominantly clear Oolite facades of the site. There is a thick tropical forest surrounding the earth and stone of the Cutler Fossil Site.

John William Bailly. Persephone de Miami (detail), 2022. OIl on Canvas. 220 x 300 cm.

In De Facie, Plutarch describes Persephone’s voyage winter to Spring and back.

“Many assertions about the gods, Sulla, are current among the Greeks, but not all of them are right. So, for example, although they give the right names to Demeter and Cora, they are wrong in believing that both are together in the same region. The fact is that the former is in the region of earth and is sovereign over terrestrial things, and the latter is in the moon and mistress of lunar things. She has been called both Cora and Phersephone, the latter as being a bearer of light and Cora because that is what we call the part of the eye in which is reflected the likeness of him who looks into it as the light of the sun is seen in the moon. The tales told of the wandering and the quest of these goddesses contain the truth <spoken covertly>, for they long for each other when they are apart and they often embrace in the shadow. The statement concerning Cora that now she is in the light of heaven and now in darkness and night is not false but has given rise to error in the computation of the time, for not throughout six months but every six months we see her being wrapped in shadow by the earth as it were by her mother, and infrequently we see this happen to her at intervals of five months, for she cannot abandon Hades since she is the boundary of Hades, as Homer too has rather well put it in veiled terms: ‘But to Elysium’s plain, the bourne of earth.'”

John William Bailly. Cripta Cappuccini I, Maggio 2014 (In Situ). Graphite on Arches paper. 7 x 10 in / 18 x 26 cm.

Bailly depicts Persephone midway on her journey, flying down into the Cutler Fossil site. Above her is an abundance of flowers and colors. The skulls that represent the Paleolithic ancestors are based on the In Situ drawings Bailly made of the Cripta dei Frati Cappuccini.

John William Bailly. Persephone de Miami (detail), 2022. OIl on Canvas. 220 x 300 cm.
John William Bailly. Persephone de Miami (detail), 2022. OIl on Canvas. 220 x 300 cm.
John William Bailly. Persephone de Miami (detail), 2022. OIl on Canvas. 220 x 300 cm.
John William Bailly. Persephone de Miami (detail), 2022. OIl on Canvas. 220 x 300 cm.

LAST UPDATE
02 September 2022
COPYRIGHT © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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