BY Ashland Mines in Profiles | 14 DEC 20
Featured in
Issue 215

Artists’ Artists: Ashland Mines on Rykeyn Bailey’s Painterly Gestures

Rykeyn Bailey captures the violence of time passing in a new series of drawings and paintings

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BY Ashland Mines in Profiles | 14 DEC 20

Rykeyn Bailey captures the violence of time passing: a moment, a sweep of action between blinks, collapsed in on itself. A film reel clogging between light and lens, each new frame melting onto the one preceding it. Blasts of burnt light in Miami; a sea-grape bush and storm clouds painted four times on a flattened box of bleach; a bashful, Hallmark-card puppy staggering on a napkin; 100 sunrises painted on strips of bed sheet; the desperate silhouette of a man balancing in a squat, trying to take a mirror selfie of his anus. These images are rendered in a hurried and dramatic manner, with painterly gestures crowding the scene until it is almost noisy, but also, of course, silent.

Rykeyn Bailey, documentation of works in progress, 2019–20. Courtesy: the artist
Rykeyn Bailey, documentation of works in progress, 2019–20. Courtesy: the artist

Bailey is one of many Virginia-born fireminds who ended up scraping through my life and making my vision clearer. He finished art school and then about-faced from the whole system, abandoning large-scale work and his studio practice. But the hydrant of his creativity gushes on. I love Bailey’s work. I’ve known him for ten years and my only access to his art has been through midnight emails with new songs he’s recorded or documentation of new drawings and paintings in progress. Looking over all this work now, I’m embarrassed by how many times I’ve pleaded with him to get back in the studio and out of this ephemera stage. Why? There’s a strong bravura in artists who have no concern for their place in the canon, who disregard cultivating a legacy, who make work because it’s as much a natural reflex, a condition of living on Earth, as breathing, eating and shitting. One text lifted from the centre of a drawings reads: ‘Sometimes you gotta just do nothing, shit varies.’ Bailey’s ‘nothing’ is heavy enough as it is.

This article first appeared in frieze issue 215 with the headline ‘Artists’ Artists’.

Main Image: Rykeyn Bailey, documentation of works in progress, 2019–20. Courtesy: the artist

Ashland Mines is an artist and DJ. He lives in New York and Los Angeles, USA.

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