Dear Bill Traylor and
Dear Bill Traylor and Hawkins Bolden,
What is authenticity? Is it power of intention or thought? Power of intuition. Power of philosophy. It is visual. It is visual philosophy, no matter the chosen style. I look for the power of authenticity’s transmission from artist during creation to the art object, whether mine or yours. I look for an authenticity of that transmission’s form and structure, color and surface, mark and rhythm. I look for an authenticity of emotion. Authenticity requires a call and response between artist and object. It cannot be predetermined.
Found throughout art history and today created by a wide range of peoples. It is pervasive and passionate belief. All artists are taught by the inner self; answering to personal thoughts and responses that result in something bigger and more encompassing than their seemingly insignificant makers. It is world culture. I believe visual creations to be films of consciousness. I believe visual elements are quietly magnificent. “They can be ugly. They can be decorative and pretty. They can be shy. They can be bold.” They are my words. How does the sense of integrity or authenticity differ from artist to artist because of their chosen style? The rigorous honing of form and idea, the poetics of economy, is evident in your works, Traylor, or its opposite–that of accretion, the poetics of accumulation, is evident in your sculpture, Bolden. You both were visual poets of your particular historical moments, seen either in your depiction of southern life, Mr. Traylor, or made evident through your use of societal detritus as a metaphor for harsh reality, both personal and national, Mr. Bolden.
Seen in felt emotion, an essential element of authenticity, taking a myriad of forms and faces ranging from the quietly reticent to the obsessive and almost violently constructed. You record your existence, whether additive or subtractive in your approach. I see existential marks made physical. I see probed consciousness. Circulating centrality, whether the clustered accumulation of holes piercing round metal discs in your sculpture, Bolden, or the subtle and economic movement throughout your drawings, Traylor, that describes a globe, a circle, an encompassing space. Both examples of the circular suggest an underlying philosophy. Both suggest a universal authenticity of spirit. Both reveal that you were visual ministers of your idiosyncratic realms, a long lasting, tangible realm that is art as idiosyncratic religion, idiosyncratic religion as art.
You both are tough and abstract in your approach to image-making in spite of an underlying narrative that prompted the creation of your abstractions. I thank you! I love to revel in your works, my escape from the world’s trivia. Were they also your escapes?