My art medium is oil on canvas, as I’ve always been drawn toward portraiture and the different ways in which it explores themes of identity and representation. I paint my subjects in a realistic manner, with emphasis on a dreamy, colorful palette personalized to the sitter. My subjects focus on women and frequently feature myself, my girlfriend and sister. I would like more women to be represented in the art world from a woman’s perspective, and I find joy in making it for the people that I care for deeply. As a Black woman, I am a part of a class is society which is overlooked in many aspects, especially art, and I personally aim to include more POC women into a world that I’ve felt has excluded us. I would always notice whenever I went to museums or galleries as a child that there was a lack of paintings done by women, especially those made by or featuring Black women and Latinx women. I’ve only grown up around ethnic people and didn’t understand why they didn’t seem as important in the world of art, and I’ve always felt like we were ignored, or thought of not fitting into the world of fine art.
My paintings act as a reprieve of sorts, providing a space in which POC women can see themselves in front of a rich vibrant landscape, or moodily looking out into the distance, poised with the elegance and grace becoming to these women that many overlook or think them incapable of. I try to express this acknowledgement by using rich, flowing color schemes evocative of my subjects’ identity that is not only a literal interpretation of them, but also an exercise in how I and others can describe her figuratively. The various interpretations of a sitter’s composition, expression and spirit are fascinating, and I intend to bring that into every piece that I make. Every aspect about the women is taken into consideration when making the works, as their wholeness is critical in commenting on myself as an artist, their selves defined as a person in a painting, and all of us in relation to our position historically in art.
I find the duality of perceptions between myself and my audience fascinating; the ways in which we can infer and differ on the portrayal of a subject accidentally or coincidentally is something I enjoy about painting not literally connected to the act. I feel as if painting is the only place where these thoughts of individuality and representation of abstract inferences regarding women like myself can be fulfilled due to the history and use of the medium, especially in relation to figurative oil paintings.
The use of the medium and its association with Masters, known for their techniques and skillful force, is a major element that I want to capture in making portraits of these women. I want to give them the time, care and attention that I feel they are deserving of, as great women Masters gave to their own. There is a great power in imaging and interpreting a person onto canvas, and these portraits of POC women aim to regard us in the varied, emotional and fanciful reverence I feel we are more deserving of. I want to be able to spread the appreciation I have for people like me who don’t and can’t see themselves in a meaningful and thought provoking landscape like art.
1. Bianca Bailey, Looking Glass , 2020, Oil on canvas, 36 x 48
2. Bianca Bailey, Fiona with Paul , 2020, Oil on canvas, 24 x 36
3. Bianca Bailey, Me Sans Color , 2020, Oil on canvas, 36 x 42
4. Bianca Bailey, Katrina , 2020, Oil on canvas, 36 x 48