I started out, like most young artists exploring figurative and portrait realism in Art. As I studied books I was attracted to Salvatore Dali's surrealistic dream imagery. I didn't read about artists life when I researched...my thirst was for fantastic imagery. The way Dali bent reality is what fascinated me about his work. He also used attraction energy and the power of suggestion which I found interesting. I was a quiet, polite young man but I had a developing sense of rage in my world. My Father, was from a Southern Family and my Mother was from a Caribbean Family. Both grew up poor on E. 99th Street in what is now Spanish Harlem. Their ambition was school - employment and family. Though both were multi creative, both couldn't dare to be professional Artists because in their simple nuclear culture the aim was in securing a "REAL JOB". I came of age during the Civil Rights Era. I was still not very vocal but my eyes and ears were open. I was finding myself and my voice was growing inside. Art... particularly Drawing became a vehicle to explore my more political beliefs and my feelings of rage. I always loved languge and would take much time exploring the dictionary and thesaurus. In doing that I developed an imaginative sense of expression due to my focus on the wide variations on one root word or term. That wide sense held through until I had a body of work to talk about.
... from the beginning of my first portfolio, I found a voice to begin to see myself in the world. My free style drawing is what became the concept of (C) 1970 Definitive Line Equation. Drawing on my study of terms and language use, I saw drawing as a language...a scripted / symbolic language where the "LINE" Defines!
...what brought me to this definition was the fact that Blackness was at the forefront in African American Culture. i was not yet in an academic environment where Art and Imagery is seen more subjectively, so internally id faced the fact that in traditional drawing - the Black line on White surface is the norm. But I was seeking an African image. I felt comfortable in the free style drawing that I was developing, but I was subconsciously seeking an African / Ethnic look. I wasn't aware that my free style was in line with Abstract Expressionism...I was steeped in African American Folk Imagery in my head. My natural expression came out in the negative as in opposite because "Line Drawing" is showing paper..which is White. I was freely abstracting my thoughts and using Design as a strong part of my imagery. In my head I was creating African Images. So at one point in meditating on my heavy use of both open line and Cross hatched line technique I separated the two styles by realizing that I love to just draw and design freely. Most of what I was concentrating on was African people oriented, so people and life situations were the underlying influence that came out in my consciously free drawing style. (C) Definitive Line Equation became my quiet theme in this free style. I began to see line and script and as I drew, I saw myself telling a story as if I were writing a book.
(C) DEFINITIVE LINE EQUATION BECAME my Multi Disciplinary encompassing (C) NEO AFRO / Afroneo
During the course of my 50+ year career as an Independent Artist / Educator, definition and presentation of work and the ideas behind them became my singular focus. I found that my definitions of self defied the know definitions and ways that African American Artists present themselves. For me developing a philosophy of drawing that is many times apolitical in intent but very political in the finished work was a special thing because if you create in honest character...expressing what you feel without the intent of taking a shot at reality...you produce work that is interesting YET Politically effective. I liken that development to the notion of shouting with a mean face VS speaking loudly because that volume is what is effective for the content presented. I am an African American man and my work is classical in content, technique and structure = Fine Art...YET it is extremely "Folk Art" centered because I speak for my family and my race as a Career Cultural and Academic Educator. It is important to note that because in the world of Fine Art which is centered in European Thought, Traditions and Genres, my voice is always controversial because of what I bend from that tradition.
I came from Harlem NYC which was one of the centers of American Protest so my Art, though technically and compositionally advanced, was steeped in Social Commentary, so my imagery / conversation about what I was doing turned some heads. My drawing instructor stated that Modern Art is Art about Nothing. I'm sure they stay with that to keep young Artists focused on the craft rather than self expression which side steps Tradition in may ways. A professor who is a Yale Art School Grad disagreed with my African definitions and Neo Expressionist leanings.
Neo Expressionism is headed by Jean Michael Basquiat who shook the Art World with his Revolutionary painting style. This Professor thought I should identify as an Abstract Expressionist...the Pre Neo Expressionist movement. I took great time to talk openly about where I came from and what my art represented. I was 55 years old at the time and just finished a 20 year run as an Artist / Educator / Performer and public / Art Festival presenter. My Career was 38 years long so I made it a point to explain myself and then there was no issue. If you want to innovate in school you have to leave no doubt about what you are doing. That required honesty and a great deal of book, life experience, mentoring and inner self research.