Bayou Fever & Related Works
New York, 535 West 22nd Street #2
Romare Bearden’s work in painting and collage remains among the most illustrative, yet overlooked bodies of work in American art. The artist, who was born in North Carolina and later moved to New York with his parents at an early age, studied art in NYU and Sorbonne. His presence in Harlem Renaissance since childhood thanks to his socially active parents gave him the roots for his politically and socially engaged practice. His depiction of Harlem and the American South delivers a vivid and determined portrayal of the African American experience through rich colors and social precision.
DC Moore Gallery’s current exhibition Bayou Fever & Related Works offers an alternative perspective on Bearden’s body of work, bringing together twenty-one collages he made in 1979 for a ballet that would be choreographed by Alvin Alley. Although this project never came into fruition, the artist’s collages that narrate a battle between the Conjur Woman and the Swamp Witch signals Bearden’s signatures motifs and themes with their geometric forms, vibrant colors, and cultural codes. The exhibition that coincides with an illustrated catalog featuring an essay by Robert O’Meally additionally includes a selection of works Bearden created in the ‘80s inspired by Obeah, a religious practice based in the Caribbean.
“Bearden's primary medium was the collage, fusing painting, magazine clippings, old paper and fabric, like a jigsaw puzzle in upheaval. But unlike a puzzle, each piece of a Bearden collage has a meaning and history all its own,” says Neda Ulaby in an article published on NPR on the occasion of the National Gallery of Art’s 2003 exhibition The Art of Romare Bearden, which was the gallery first major retrospective of an African American artist.
The exhibition is on view until April 29th.