'I think that painting relates very neatly to inner travel and the exploration of inner worlds. With painting, I always get the impression that you’re sort of entering into a shared space. There’s everyone who’s painted in the past, and everyone who is painting in the present.' —Joe BradleyRead More
In his paintings, drawings, sculptures, and mixed-media works, Joe Bradley has produced a visual language that oscillates freely between personal and art historical references. Constantly reinventing himself, he cycles through some of the most iconic modes of abstraction, investigating Minimalist questions of colour and form, tapping into the spontaneous gesture of Abstract Expressionism, and creating cryptic signs and symbols in ingenious, lively drawings.
Bradley earned his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1999 and had his first gallery show in New York in 2003. Just three years later he had his first solo exhibition at MoMA PS1, which included boldly painted monochromatic canvases arranged in geometric formations. These modular paintings investigate the ways that colors exist in relation to each other and to negative space, while subtly evoking architectural structures and human or robotic figures. In recent works Bradley paints fragments of unprimed canvas on the floor, collecting studio debris in swaths of colour. Imbuing abstraction with a tactile immediacy, he applies the oil paint in thick layers to create captivating, tessellated compositions.
In his drawing practice Bradley uses such unorthodox materials as cardboard scraps, loose paper, and even sticky notes. While artistic precedents appear to be among his works’ influences and inspirations, they never settle into certainty. In many ways Bradley holds a mirror up to the art world itself, finding humour in the ever-shifting trends and traditions of recent art history. One aspect of his practice that remains constant is his emphasis on process: the intuitive motions of the artist’s hand, as well as the effects of material, memory, and environment. For his Schmagoo Paintings (2008), Bradley drew invented symbols and doodles with grease pencil on raw canvas, presenting lighthearted subject matter with a direct, gestural confidence. Though vaguely familiar—recalling children’s drawings, comic book sketches, cave paintings, and ideograms—the images are devoid of specific meaning, exploring the very implications of the creative act.
Text courtesy Gagosian.
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