In Prologue Series #1, Glenn Ligon references Ralph Ellison's 1952 novel Invisible Man, a text that addresses many of the social and intellectual issues facing African-Americans in the early twentieth century, included individuality and personal identity, the relationship between black identity, as well as black nationalism. For Ligon, Ellison's novel was a fundamental inspiration for the use of text in his work, challenging the viewer to further question our understandings and misunderstandings of black race and culture. The muddled compilation of works visible within the shadows and darkness towards the center canvas of the triptych allude to our many misconstructions of race all the while presenting a magnetic and contemporary agenda to take on the age old question of reinserting painting in the twenty first century.
By welcoming smudges and irregularities, these alterations have resulted in font that is difficult to decode and in many cases impossible to see, a symbolic form that conveys everlasting significance. Like a chant or metrical pattern in a poem, the repetition gives meaning while similarly losing its message in the continuing phrases. "There are a lot of things in our culture that seem clear," said Ligon in an interview at his studio. "But I think what the paintings are trying to do is to slow down reading, to present a difficulty, to present something that is not so easily consumed and clear" (C. Berwick, "Stranger in America: Glenn Ligon," Art in America, May 2011).