The history, pulse, rhythm and energy of Africa spiral into motion in a new series by visual artist Danny Simmons. Noted for his abstract-expressionist paintings, Simmons is now merging oil paints with African and abstract print fabrics.
On the surface, the works call to mind a kaleidoscope with its fusion of psychedelic imagery, juxtaposed patterns and swatches of color. But in a statement Simmons sent via email he notes, “As trippy as these works seem to be they hold true to my commitment to being neo-African and pose futurist musings on traditional tribal spirituality, magic and textiles. The works are multilayered and infused with history and the carrying of tradition through the trans-Atlantic passage. This is seen in the works being accented with sections of vintage African American quilts that seek to tie this American experience to our African roots, both real and imagined.”
Simmons is not alone in that assessment of his work’s spiritual and symbolic ties to Africa. Entrepreneur and artist Lenny Bazemore recalls being drawn to the work precisely for that reason. The connection was so strong that Bazemore is now a collector of Simmons’ work. And he has given Simmons a solo show based on the series, titled “On to Something Beautiful” at The Bazemore Gallery in Philadelphia now through Sept. 3.
“On my first visit to his studio, his work spoke to me. His work allows me to experience my ethnicity directly from an outside source. It takes me to my African roots and gives me a peaceful vibe,” Bazemore wrote in an emailed response. “I will be traveling to Africa in August and will have Danny’s work on my mind then as I reference the surrounding culture and environment.”