In title and form, Dailey’s Eidolon series evokes both myth and metaphor. The eidolon of ancient Greek literature is a spirit-image, a phantom doppelgänger of a living or dead person. Just as in Walt Whitman’s 1892 poem Eidólon--Greek for images, forms, apparitions, or souls—this ancient term serves in Dailey’s compositions as a leitmotif. In Whitman’s and Dailey’s literary and visual manifestations, images and phantom forms are, as the poet writes, “the true realities.”
The creatures emerging from the dark void in Dailey’s Eidolon compositions belong to the untamed wilderness; yet, by virtue of their enclosure within the picture frame, we are treated to intimate portraits that capture their spirit. One wonders if these forceful images of gazelle, impala, fringe-eared oryx, kudu et al. are real or merely apparitions, idealized figments of the artist’s creation. Similar to the manner in which the meaning of eidolon remains ambiguous in Whitman’s poem, the tension between the two literal definitions—“phantom” and “image of an ideal”—is apparent in Dailey’s compositions. As viewers stand facing these enigmatic images, they are forced to contemplate the often tenuous and detached relationship between man and nature.
In bestowing the title Eidolon upon these compositions, the artist embraces both the phantom and idolization factor in the works. They reflect the dialectic or life in which from thesis comes antithesis and then synthesis.