By Valerie Gonzalez
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Additional info for Beauty and Islam Aesthetics in Islamic Art
Dial himself is aware of this predicament: “Art is strange-looking stuff and most people don’t understand art. 50 Most people don’t understand my art, the art of the Negroes, because most people don’t understand me, don’t understand the Negroes at all. If everybody understand one another, wouldn’t nobody make art. Art is something to open your eyes. ”11 To argue for Dial as expressionist is to attempt to appropriate him not to a historical movement but rather to something more generally understood as a creative tendency, of which German Expressionism or American Abstract Expressionism are only the most theorized and self-conscious examples.
Dial’s drawings, as a distinct body of work within his overall practice, offer new vantage points through which to view the large found-object works that have historically shaped conversations around his art. Readings of his sculptural and mixed-media compositions tend to emphasize social and political content, particularly dealing with themes of race and resistance, civil rights and discrimination, current events, historical memory, and art. Dial’s mixedmedia pieces elicit interpretations that are as many-layered as his mixed media pieces.
If you pay attention to them, they’re there for you. I don’t care how you put it—life goes on in all kinds of ways. ” Spiritual praise also factors into this work when, for example, Dial places the fish in his drawings: “Fish actually take care of people,” Dial explains; “therefore, we want fish to live. We’re showing how we fish for fish to live, and that’s something the Lord has made for man to enjoy. ” Importantly, though, it is bare-breasted women with painted cheeks, lipsticked mouths, and coiffed hair who invariably stand, float, and recline at the center of these meditations that lend motifs like fish layers of significance.