The painter, was a student of the realist Philadelphian, Edith Neff; and well versed with the realism of Andrew Wyeth, one of the foremost realist painters of the second half of the North American 20th century.
In his work, this artist points to what lies usually hidden, latent, masked, in his subject.
Sometimes he paints what we can see but which is hidden by common convention: seen but not spoken about.
This subject is wearing fur around his neck which would indicate that he is standing on an American and not an African shore.
The title of the painting and his headgear – which may be religious attire – indicate the work he has undertaken to deal with the complexities of his life.
The Master, 1992, oil on linen, and details. With light interference.
James W. (Bo) Bartlett, American born Georgia (southern USA), 1955. Woodmere Museum of Art, Philadelphia
His tears are not those of someone who burst into tears. These are seepage tears.
They come from an internal well of pain and they flow involuntarily. They indicate the continuing pain of the struggle towards individual autonomy, coherence and dignity.
So glorious are the colours of this work that it seems clear that the subject understands amor fati, a Nietschean phrase encouraging the full-hearted, full-throated acceptance of individual fate… between fighting and co-operating into the adaptive equilibrium which strengthens with age and is our natural condition…
All things equal…
so that, in the words of Julian of Norwich, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well…
though involuntary tears flow and flow.