Inescapable Truths: Work in Progress

Paintings: oil on linen, toner on silk


Mother’s Lament (Syria, March 28, 2012, 5:22 pm), 2018, 31” x 101”, Digital sketch of work in progress - Oil on linen, toner on silk

Inescapable Truths is a project that honors the life and work of American conflict journalist James Foley (1973-2014).

Foley used external hard drives to back the photographic and video footage that he took while he was working in Libya and Syria. For the past year, Bradley McCallum has been working with his hard drives to identify key sequences in his work and to use this as source material for new artworks.

McCallum is creating a series of layered paintings that are built from a collage of video stills and photographs. His intention is to reframe vital moments that Foley documented and to express the trauma, loss, and human consequences of war and the important role of conflict journalists who report from the field.

The project will include fifteen to twenty oil paintings (including large scale, and smaller works) in McCallum’s signature style: layering a photographic silk scrim over an oil painting. The silk envelopes the painting and subtly obscures the image depicted on the canvas. This layering process produces a painting that is breathtaking and cinematic.

In this project McCallum transforms Foley’s archive into poetic works that speak to the politics of war and terrorism, the essential role of journalist to speak truth and report on humanitarian struggles, while also acknowledging his moral courage and profound sacrifices.

Paintings and Digital Sketches

Ruins (Sirte, October 25, 2011, 5:30am), 2018, 56.5” x 85”, Digital sketch of work in progress - Oil on linen, toner on silk

“I want my work to play the role of a memorial,” says McCallum, “to act as a public site of collective remembrance, and to reframe our view of Foley, to shift our focus from the graphic memory of his execution to the significance of his life and the stories he reported on.” (2017)


  • 2018

  • Acknowledgements

    The artist gratefully acknowledges the support and trust of Diane Foley and The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation.

    The Foundation was started by Diane Foley in 2014. Their mission is to advocate for the safe return of all Americans detained abroad, to protect independent conflict journalists and to educate regarding these threats to our freedom. The Foundation provided me with the portable hard drives Foley used to back up his personal and professional files. This is the first time such sensitive and vital information has been accessed since his death.