Blessings III is the newest release by John Holyfield! A depiction of eight figures of African-American descent caught in a moment of complete devotion of joint prayer and commencing a Thanksgiving meal. Blessings III has been released subsequent to two other paintings of congruent subject matter, also donning the name Blessings (I & II). This religiously inspired series references bible verse after bible verse through attention to detail. The most poignant and translatable of the pious literature being John 1:16:
“We have all benefited from the rich blessing
He brought to us
blessing upon blessing heaped upon us.”
Much of Holyfield’s work is reminiscent of the Mannerist movement and could be likened to the work of Frank Morisson and the late Ernie Barnes. Due to the way these artists elongated the bodies of their subjects. However Holyfield’s work is similar to very few, in the current collectible art world, in the way its varying content is supported by a recognizable hand. Both Blessings I and II adhere to Holyfield’s aesthetically agreeable and consistent style. Conversely Blessings III strays from the series in aesthetic.
Though in the past Holyfield’s aesthetic would never have been called expressionist, a term coined by the Expressionism Movement originating in Germany during the 1900’s, Blessings III could be seen as just that in relation to the rest of the series. Expressionism was a movement concerned with expressing the meaning of “being alive” and capturing emotional experience rather than physical reality. Symbolism in this piece functions as a portrayal of the subjects emotional state: The perspective being altered to maintain a circle (an allusion to the circular structure of life), the interior form of the windows cut off to form crosses near the highest register of the painting (a recognizable shape that supported Christ during his death), in addition to the composition which causes the human figures to touch all sides of the canvas but the aforementioned top register of the painting (a sanctioned off space containing sanctified information). All of these conceptual elements make up for the lack of Holyfield’s recognizable hand. Earning Blessings III’s place within the beautifully rendered series. Worthy of all walls within the home of the spiritual soul.
Review Written by James Sprang