‘Destination Unknown’ depicts a barefooted young black man walking barefoot down a train track, holding a switch in his hand. The painting is a powerful representation of the African American experience, as it captures the tension between freedom and oppression, and the uncertainty of the future.
The use of the switch in the painting is a powerful symbol, as is his lack of shoes, evoking both the carefree nature of youth and the possibility of violence. The serenity of the scene is contrasted by the underlying tension, creating a sense of unease and uncertainty. It is up to the viewer to interpret the meaning behind this symbol, and the overall message of the painting.
Overall, ‘Destination Unknown’ is a masterful example of Barnes’ unique artistic style and his ability to capture the complexities of the African American experience. The painting invites viewers to reflect on the meaning behind the symbols and to consider the ongoing struggle for freedom and equality in America.
Ernie Barnes was born in 1938 and is now recognized as one of the most significant African American artists of the 20th Century. Many people recognize his painting called “Sugar Shack” from the classic TV sitcom Good Times.
Most of Ernie Barnes’ artwork reflect his view of African American lifestyles but he also shows us his continued love for sports. He also has a commitment towards racial and ethnic harmony and many of his paintings reflect it. With all things considered it’s easy to see why Ernie is one of the most collected African American artists in the world.