I don’t know what Guy Bailey did at the École des Beaux-Arts in Montreal in the early seventies, but when he left, he was a self-taught naïve painter. He painted villages, sometimes seen from above that seem too small to contain a crowd. Apparently after receiving recognition in this field, he left to reappear with a completely different kind of painting. It is as if naïve painting removed the mask, allowing the primitive to arise. Inspired by African art, Guy Bailey places the mask at the centre of his paintings. The plaster he adds above his colours even makes the entire painting a reminder of the mask painted right on the skin of the face during ceremonies. The crowd has mutated into a cross between human and animal, as in the large painting Mélanges, on display at the Museum of Outsider Contemporary Art.
More than the others, this painting invites us to look at it a long time, for it to reveal its complexity, with scenes open to interpretation, even as the painter plays with the history of painting, as revealed by an unexpected Pietà on the bottom right.