The Ghost of Denmark Vessey


The Ghost of Denmark Vessey, 24×20″ oil on linen, framed by the artist

Vessey appears as an indomitable spirit, standing with dignity, bible in hand, as if above the hatred of the racists, who’s anger and fear, represented by a posse of angry white men, who have driven his body into the ocean. But they cannot touch his spirit, which endures forever.  Denmark Vessey led the first slave revolt in SC and in America. I recently reworked this painting, creating a more ghostly presence instead of a more real version of Vessey.

continued. . .

The Ghost of Denmark Vessey framed on the wall

During the making of the documentary film Emanuel, I gathered photos of "the possy", of which I was acting as a member, who are depicted here during the arrest. In my painting, Vessey appears as an indomitable spirit, standing with dignity, bible in hand, as if above the hatred of the racists, who's anger and fear, represented by their torches, is going up in smoke and dissipating into thin air.The painting is a reminder of America's longstanding scourge of racism and the ongoing fight for equality and restitution of the country's original sin of slavery. It is also intended to reaffirm that the forces of hate will never win and that faith, hope and love will ultimately win out.

I had been planning this painting for the two years or so since the film. It commemorates the fifth anniversary of the massacre.

The painting is a continuation of The Quench Project and the Mire of Desire, exploring how our desires tend to control us, whether they are healthy in nature or more malevolent.  It is also part of my Iconic Charleston series and the Dylann Roof courtroom sketches.

More available originals

Commission a portrait by Robert Maniscalco

Historic Painting / Social Realism

Additional information

Type of Work

Original, Giclee stretch on canvas, Artists Proof (AP)


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