Voices of the Delta: David Bailin

Author: Arkansas Arts CenterFiled under: Delta 59, Exhibitions, Museum, Voices of the Delta

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I have never thought much about memory and personality, never considered the role memory plays in personality and the preservation and continuity of that personality in lived space. As an artist who is now witnessing the shattering of my father’s personhood through the shattering of his memory, the question is, how to convey this devastating personal, human, experience without relying on visual clichés.

The final image in any of my drawings is largely the result of the pentimenti that moved the narrative along but did not resolve it. The under-drawing is part of the overall look and meaning of the work – it adds tonality and narrative depth. Sometimes though, the drawing fails as the pentimenti overpowers the final image, mirroring it like quicksand under a surface of marks and wipeouts.

However, these failed to drawings, with their layers of partially rendered scenes and gestures, gave me my visual and technical cues for this work. The frustration of trying to define what was not yet formed yet was intimated by what went earlier, the back-and-forth process of drawing in and erasing out, having an idea or image revealing itself one minute only to fall back into obscurity the next, mimics what I see happening to my father in his heroic effort to recognize in the moment his own personal narrative and memories.

Only ghosts are left

– David Bailin


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