Decree of Death, 2019, oil on canvas, 86 x 118 inches, Courtesy LnS Gallery
The works selected for this exhibition recast the transatlantic exchange in a new perspective. Drawing on mythology, history, and biology, these paintings challenge the traditional narrative of the European conquest of the Americas.
Zuan Chabotto, 2019
Ponce de Leon, 2019
John Winthorp, 2019
Jean Ribault, 2019
Jacques Le Moyne, 2019
Hernan Cortes, 2019
Cristoforo Colombo, 2019
Amerigo Vespucci, 2019
Cabeza de Vaca, 2019
Francisco Pizarro, 2019
These paintings see America—a powerful, sexual, divine female—conquer, judge, and cast down man while nature consumes all. The paintings are made by a French-British-American male, raised but not born in the Americas. This irony and hypocrisy is directly confronted and is central to the works. A French man exploring the Americas; a man painting a female nude. The recognition and struggle with this inherently problematic and personal, yet universal, dynamic is essential in the making of these works. They are the exploration of a struggle. These paintings
are not political, nor are they righteous statements. Rather, they aim to ask tough questions of cultural and community identity, specifically as these themes relate to place. Who is who? What is native? What is invasive?
Details of Decree of Death, 2019
The notion of dominance is reversed into an interaction that is simultaneously both allogamous, and violent. The European “conquistadors” are strangled and drowned by serpentine American mangroves, and suffocated by tropical flora. Water is blood, blood is death, and blood is life. Flowers are life, flowers are death, and nature is inevitable. America, as a powerful woman, surges forward out of a blood Lake Maracaibo, to exert a divine last judgement upon the men of Europe. Both around her and out of her, nature consumes man.
“Expansive in both scale and vision, the paintings evoke violence, chaos and the coming together of European and indigenous peoples of the Americas. The allegory of the Americas as a female figure in The Decree of Death, and the roses forming both the overlaying Fibonacci spiral in all the works, as well as symbols of fertility, sexuality and the fragility of life serve as a profound symbol of this relationship. In the current tempestuous state of politics, Bailly’s paintings pull us back to a genesis; the acuteness of a moment when two forces crashed into each other to become something new: the colonizer and the colonized; the world born from that moment of violence, trauma and fervor.” -Melissa Diaz, Deering Estate Cultural Arts Curator