Raymond L. Haywood: Love Letters and Love Notes
October 22 - November 27Free
Raymond L. Haywood remembers that the context for his series Love Letters and Love Notes was evolving in late 2019 before “the COVID year.” Up to this point, brilliant color and bold compositions were signifiers in his aesthetic as well as in the emotional rhythms of his paintings. Inspired by landscapes and the sea, he surfed through layered colors and textures to uncover succinct improvisational gestures for his emotions. COVID-19 brought fear, indecision and placed plans on hold. Struggling with insecurity and voice, a new body of work came as a breakthrough. Through a key decision to incorporate the color black as ground, Haywood has produced his most mature body of work to date.
In two significant paintings, Absence of Light and Testify, Haywood developed his now-signature image of a stylized cowrie shell. The cowrie shell has many contexts and meanings in the African Diaspora that parallel the artist’s experiences as an African-American man in America. He states that “these paintings felt like wrestling with myself.” For Haywood, painting is a means of communication like no other: it is the praxis that brings meaning to his life.
Raymond L. Haywood works in the historic African-American community of West Oakland. Born and currently living in Berkeley, Haywood feels that the city’s energy contributes to his desire to communicate with both critical thinking and empathy. He studied with Faith Ringgold and Italo Scanga at the University of California, San Diego, and received an MFA in painting from San Francisco State University. His work has been shown at Metal Haus Gallery in Oakland; and SomArts and the StARTup Art Fair in San Francisco. Passionate about painting, drawing, arts advocacy, and education, Haywood has participated in the Art of the African Diaspora exhibition at the Richmond Art Center for the past twenty-five years. This is his first solo show at Mercury 20 Gallery.