I grew up in Africa riding horses in the bush, eating sugarcane by the side of the road, and playing dress-up with banana leaves. I experienced a sense of freedom and abandon, and an immediate connection to the tactile, physical, and non-rational worlds. Now, as an adult, my paintings reconnect me to that awakened child of Africa.

I paint as an explorer going on a journey. I disappear into the unknown and dig for what will unravel and reveal itself: new images, new relationships, new ways of moving paint. Scraping, scratching, wiping, adding, subtracting. Inviting drips, stains, layering, accidents.

I am a deeply physical person. I love movement. In addition to painting, I run, surf, and dance. I paint on a large scale so I can feel my body moving across a big field. I paint because I love the tactile, sensual aspects: tearing, ripping, paper, paint, collage, plaster, glue. I crave the space for spontaneous gestures, for paint to swirl, and colors to collide. Cerulean, magenta, violet, and indigo.

I search for the image, and its proper place in the world around it. I allow words and images to appear, disappear, get buried, resurface. Words scrawled in black ink across a torn page. A pair of high heeled shoes, an hour glass, a hot air balloon. Two horses intertwined in a huge white field.

Sometimes this process happens magically, as if by accident. Sometimes it takes months of moving, playing, changing and editing before the total rhythm of the painting finds the resonance I seek for, the moment of yes.

I thrive making order out of chaos. I love taking the irrational world of my emotions, hopes, fears, dreams, desires and idiosyncrasies and sculpting and re-arranging them in myriad ways until order is found. And paradoxically in this process my mind becomes still. I open myself up to something much bigger than myself. Decisions make themselves. Time melts away and I journey into an expansive universe, as wide as the Serengeti Plains. I enter a world of space and matter, building up my canvases with color and texture, recapturing the freedom and movement of my African childhood.

March 2007

kinein ‘to move’ + aesthesis ‘sensation’

by Stephanie Allen

Light. Space. Movement. Three key elements to not only Bailey’s paintings, but every aspect of her life. In fact, all three of these elements were what motivated her to initially become a painter, to later move from New York City to Los Angeles’s Westside and the Southern California light that has inspired so many artists, among them Richard Diebenkorn.

“I began painting after my junior year at Yale,” Bailey recalls. “I had decided to take a detour through Manhattan on my way home to Michigan for the summer. MOMA was having an exhibition of late paintings by Monet. I walked into that show and was absolutely blown away -- by the scale, the surface and the abstraction of the Water Lilies. I had never seen anything like it. My whole body screamed, ‘I have to do this. I want to move across a giant space like this.’ I went back to MOMA three days in a row. I had to start painting. And it had to be big.”

Space is key to Bailey. Though a painter, her body is just as vital a component to her expression as a dancer’s is. Her art is born of movement – kinein – and sensation – aesthesis.

“Painting is for me very physical. It is a sensual, immediate, visceral act, very much like dancing, yoga and surfing. I learn about the world through movement and touch, light and color. I’m not one of these painters that can go into the studio for 14 hours. I go in and the impulses move through my body in bursts of energy.”

One of the first paintings Amadea did that she considers a successful work is entitled La Dance C’est Moi.” It is a 8’ x 12’ explosion of blue about her experience of joy and exhilaration while learning to windsurf. She’s yet to sell the painting and hopes one day to have it exhibited in a public space.

Born in Gottingen, Germany, Amadea is the oldest in her family. Her parents met while attending seminary in New York City in the 50’s. In the sixties Marjean and Jack Bailey moved to Limuru, Kenya (22 miles outside Nairobi) with their three children so Amadea’s father could teach in a small seminary there.

Faith was key to Bailey’s upbringing, but it is Eastern, not Episcopalian, spiritual beliefs that resonate for her.

“I believe Talent for an artist is a God-given gift, so it is my responsibility to develop that gift to the fullest..” Bailey’s process is ritualistic. “How can I use myself in the best possible way to make a contribution that is unique? I ask to be a vehicle for divine inspiration .Whatever comes out on the canvas after that is what is supposed to come out. It is not about ‘me expressing me,’ it is about ‘me removing me’ so that something bigger can come through.”

One of her most important tools is the studio she designed in collaboration with architect Michael Eldridge after she bought her house ten years ago.

The studio is Bailey’s sanctuary. “I think it is a dream studio,” she proudly admits, “and one of the most extraordinary things I’ve ever done. People walk in and say they feel like they are walking into a church or cathedral. It is a sacred space.”

With twenty-foot high ceilings, six huge skylights, over-sized custom French doors on two sides, the space is flooded with light. The new studio has dramatically influenced Bailey’s paintings. For the past three years she has been working on a series of white paintings, though previously her palette had been charged with ultramarine blue, manganese violet, cerulean blue, vermillion, cadmium yellow.

Bailey’s work has always been influenced by the Abstract Expressionist “action painters” of the forties and fifties. Now, in the new studio, after years of pure abstraction, words have crept into the paintings and the words are morphing into figurative images.

“The images are iconic representations,” she explains, “symbols from my unconscious or from the world around me that tell a story and which I make manifest on the canvas.” The surfaces of the paintings are highly textured, layered with paint, papers and medium that are like her personal geology. She builds up the canvas, scratches into it, scrapes away, adds more layers, digs deep again.

Bailey believes it is no accident that within the safe surroundings of her studio – light, space, movement – she also craves more intimacy and is willing to take risks, be more vulnerable, both personally and artistically. In this sanctum, she believes, “anything is possible.

March 2006


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