The Washington Post profiles Sam Gilliam who is not only in the midst of a rediscovery of his work but is also experiencing something of an extraordinary personal renewal in his 80s:
This artistic rebirth has caught even those closest to him by surprise. Just a few years ago, Gilliam was unable to work or really function at all. Then a new set of doctors, prodded by his family, determined that what ailed the artist wasn’t his health but overzealous attempts to manage it. Changes were made, medications dropped, and recovery came quickly.
“He went from somebody who was sort of catatonic on the couch to somebody who realized he was fit enough to travel extensively,” says Melissa Gilliam, the second of his three daughters. “He went from not knowing whether he was able to paint again to climbing five flights of stairs. It’s been transformative for him.”
These days, Gilliam is a working artist. He heads to his studio five days a week, talks about acquiring another sports car and explores his latest artistic shift — the vibrant wooden panels varnished as deliciously as Icelandic glaciers. When his five-paneled piece is displayed in September, it will be the first time any of this new work has been shown to the public. And there’s more to come.
“After 30, 40 years of painting, 30, 40 years of wondering what I should do, it’s now like this,” he says, and snaps his fingers.
The not-so-simple comeback story of pioneering artist Sam Gilliam (The Washington Post)