What is it?
Reginald Baylor (b. 1966)
The Directions To and From
Acrylic on canvas
96 x 70 in.
About the Work
The Directions To and From is a perfect example of Reginald Baylor’s energetic, colorful, complex brand of figuration. The title harkens back to Baylor’s years as a truck driver where along the road he encountered myriad symbols of popular culture.
Many of his images reference today’s consumer-oriented culture—Air Jordan, Tweety Bird, Pac Man, Mighty Mouse, Mobil Oil, Kool-Aid Man, Snoopy, Twitter—and less obvious ones imbued with racial resonance such as the little girl’s afro hairstyle shaped like Mickey Mouse ears, or watermelons forced into cube shapes for easier storage. Baylor himself is present in this chaotic but precisely delineated cacophony and he is still on the road, steering a course through the tangle of objects on his motorcycle.
The Directions To and From is Pop Art for our digital age. We all navigate daily an overwhelming bombardment of symbols and information filled with logos, nostalgia, and subliminal marketing. Baylor’s painting additionally alludes to ways in which Black culture specifically is appropriated by the mainstream when economically advantageous.