Purvis Young (1943 - 2010)

Protesting the Past, Circa 1999
Paint on plastic panel with carpet frame
24 x 48 in (60.96 x 121.92 cm)
A processional of good and evil is presided over by a central haloed figure. The marginalized populations march for freedom. Angels are overhead while death basks beneath. By protesting the past, these people acknowledge the devastation delivered upon them by history’s oppressive agents, embracing a horrid saga and harsh reality. A bloodied battle rages on the left, executed by the black painted persecutors. Chaos ensued. The tyranny abruptly stops halfway through the painting. We see a composition split by a dominant, yellow, and angelic entity. On the right, white figures seem emancipated while still wearing their bondage, ankle chains that forever shackle them to a grim reminder of the appalling spirit of slavery’s past. These historical specters continue to fight for freedom, past lives that occupy the middle ground of a very flat depth of field. The tombstones nestled in the lower left corner act as anchoring elements in the foreground, signifying the ever-present truths of these gruesome deaths. The restless spirits in “Protesting the Past”, continue their demanding journey and will forever march on for freedom.
Protesting the Past by Purvis Young (1943 - 2010)

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