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Saturday, July 3, 2021

Musing with a Master Abstract Expressionist - Part 1

Osiris Munir is President/CEO of Ankh Entertainment and host of the 15 Minutes interview series. She is also a visual artist.

Munir learned about Beauford through various contacts with me. Inspired by his work, she recently created three previously unseen abstract works and shared images of them with the Wells International Foundation and Les Amis de Beauford Delaney. She calls them The Three Are One.

The Three Are One
Osiris Munir
(2021) Oil on paperboard

They call to my mind Beauford's Untitled (Yellow Abstraction), shown below.

Untitled (Yellow Abstraction)
(c. 1958-1959) Oil on paper, laid down on canvas
Image courtesy of Aaron Galleries
© Estate of Beauford Delaney,
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Prior to a series of challenging life events that led her to the investigation of intuitive abstract art, Munir:

. . . hated art and thought it a rip off of one’s time and money. I knew nothing of Pollock, Hofmann, Kandinsky, Rothko, Krasner, Monet, Picasso, and Georgia O’Keefe until a neighbor turned me onto Bob Ross. I began watching YouTube study channels. . . . 
I did not hear of Beauford until the introduction and the telling of his story by Monique Wells, founder of the Wells International Foundation. Of course, I was fascinated. Until then I knew nothing of abstract art outside of the aforementioned. Monique told me of her search for his grave and how it was without a head stone ... how he died in a mental institute in Paris.

As a veteran diagnosed with a variety of mental disorders, Munir readily understands and resonates with the suffering of the mentally disturbed. She finds art to be a great tool and channel for releasing an abundance of creative energy. Simultaneously and intrinsically drawn to Beauford's life and work, she describes his work (and her own) as being purposeful and intentional. She says that Beauford seemed to take obscure thoughts that were disconnected in some ways and harmonized them in arrays of colorful expression.

To create The Three Are One, Munir used oil on brick paperboard. This was inspired by Beauford's Burning Bush, which is currently held at the Newark Art Museum. She loves the texture of oil:
It seems to find its way through my fingers into my hands and onto a canvas, brick, or piece of wood. It looks like velvet when applied to a primed canvas. It looks elegant and rich to me. It calls me and speaks to me from a place that is unexplainable. Oil seems to have the property and gift of manifestation for me. It seems to move with my eyes and fingers ... [Using it makes me feel] like another entity outside of myself is painting, not me.

Munir chose the colors for these works based on Tarot cards by Madame Marie Laveau of New Orleans, which she says are similar to colors used by Beauford and others of that time. She offered the following comment about this:

Some of his (Beauford's) pieces use muted colors wherein they seem flat until you take a closer look. After looking closer at these pieces, the feeling and sense of how each color moves on paper and canvas carries a certain exposure of light.

Next week: Osiris Munir talks in depth about similarities between her life and Beauford's, and muses about the conversation she'd have with him if they could sit down together today.

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