We don’t often think of time as being integral to painting. Music, movies and other art forms unfold over hours and minutes, and even sculpture takes at least a few moments to experience in the round. But paintings are static, so we sometimes feel we can grasp them in a second. To be sure, this isn’t the case, but it’s an idea constantly reinforced by our addiction to instantaneity in our daily lives.
Fighting against this inclination is the painter William Bailey, whose art commands us to slow down. Now, an exhibition at the Yale University Art Gallery examines his uniquely contemplative, gradual and deep-reaching work. Curated by the museum’s Mark D. Mitchell, “William Bailey: Looking Through Time” includes 17 oil paintings and 21 works on paper made over the course of his six-decade career. It is thus a rare and welcome opportunity to view a body of work that fights against the attention deficit disorders of the moment.