The Walter Darby Bannard Archive

Statement (1999)

Statement for retrospective exhibition of Bannard paintings, Lowe Art Museum, Coral Gables, FL, August, 1999.

I started making drawings and watercolors of birds when I was seven and have been making pictures of one kind or another ever since. One of the pleasures of a long life in art is the chance to have a retrospective exhibition once in a while, and it is especially nice to curate one myself. I made this exhibition a retrospective of paintings from 1987 - 1999 because a selection of earlier paintings was shown at Miami-Dade Community College in 1990. Rather than a balanced year-to-year survey I have selected from groups of work I like particularly: a number of large brushy paintings from 87 - 89, a few of the first paintings I did in Miami in 1990, some fluorescent paintings of 1992 and 1993, works on paper (mostly from 1996), and several current acrylics.

Like many modernist painters I tend to paint in spurts of activity rather than a regular day-to-day routine. This is partly my nature and at times a reaction to exhibition pressure, but mostly because modernist painting is so much a matter of invention, painfully starting a series from scratch and ending a series with the exhaustion of its inspiration. I have gone through several such phases; each has its own character. In 1987 I turned from a long-time interest in color to what I call "brush and cut" paintings in large scale (one painting in this show is over 18 feet wide) using transparent tinted gel medium applied with very large street brooms and industrial floor squeegees to make painted "drawings" which feature vigorous brushwork and 3D illusion. This method has persisted until now and I thought it would be interesting to see a sampling of its evolution.

After I moved to Miami in the early 90s I began incorporating more color into my large paintings, and in the mid-90s color returned full force in the form of small mixed-media "landscapes" on paper, inspired directly by Florida, especially the flat land and water of the Everglades and the lowering sun and flamboyant clouds in the evening sky. (All the paintings I have done here, large and small, are named after Florida towns or places). Recently I have returned to large brushed gel paintings, using iridescent, fluorescent, interference and metallic colors to induce a sense of glowing and reflected light. Nevertheless, I have become less concerned with bravura and technique, having learned to let a painting go where it will, and it seems to me that these pictures are more dense and ruminative and less concerned with dramatic effect and nicety of surface. They also owe a lot to the merciless and on-target criticism of my son Bill, who has a great eye and knows all my art-making dodges and evasions.

I have always felt that art represents the best of ourselves to ourselves, and that this comes across through intuition, and feeling and rather than words and meaning. I hope you enjoy the pictures.