Details
Joe Bradley (b. 1975)
Untitled
signed, titled and dated ‘Joe Bradley 2011 UNTITLED’ (on the reverse)
oil and oil stick on canvas
88 ¾ x 69in. (225.5 x 175.3cm.)
Executed in 2011
Provenance
Jonathan Viner Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Exhibited
London, Jonathan Viner Gallery, Joe Bradley, Nicolas Deshayes, Eddie Peake, Dan Rees, Josh Smith and Oscar Tuazon: Surface to Surface, 2012.

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Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord

Lot Essay

‘It’s easy to see Basquiat, Guston and cave painting in [Bradley’s] messy, bold lines and weathered textures. In these large abstractions, scribbled-looking passages in bright colours are set against areas of canvas marked only with dirt … The canvases are painted on both sides, so that faint areas of flat colour, visible from the back, are in dialogue with heavily painted areas on the front, which often include contrasting colours laid over each other. The result is real visual electricity’
(B. Boucher, ‘Joe Bradley,’ in Art in America, 25 March 2011).

‘With painting I always get the impression that you’re sort of entering into a shared space’, he explains. ‘There’s everyone who’s painted in the past, and everyone who is painting in the present… You can be in conversation with those men and women in the caves – it’s like yesterday, you know? I think that time moves slower in painting ... It’s just a very human activity that takes time’
(J. Bradley quoted in L. Hoptman, ‘Joe Bradley’, Interview Magazine, reproduced at http://www.interviewmagazine.com/art/joe-bradley [accessed 13 September 2015]).

Executed on a vast scale, spanning over two metres in height, Joe Bradley’s Untitled presents a dynamic explosion of visceral mark-making. Painted in 2011, it is a captivating example of the powerful, large-scale abstract paintings for which the artist is universally celebrated. Upon its raw, tactile ground, smeared blocks of red, blue and black paint jostle and collide, punctuated by streaks of white and canary yellow. Bradley’s works poetically tells the story of their own making: leaving his canvases on the studio floor to accrue paint and dirt, the artist rejoices in the accidental marks that appear upon their surface. Often painting on both sides of the canvas, Bradley allows colour to seep through and intermingle, creating an elusive sense of depth that underpins his bold chromatic statements. Employing a vast array of painterly gestures, Bradley’s practice invokes a rich art-historical lineage: from Jackson Pollock’s floor-bound action painting, to Franz Kline’s sweeping brushwork, Jean Dubuffet’s caustic surfaces and Cy Twombly’s schismatic linear scrawl. As Brian Boucher has written, ‘It’s easy to see Basquiat, Guston and cave painting in [Bradley’s] messy, bold lines and weathered textures ... The result is real visual electricity’ (B. Boucher, ‘Joe Bradley,’ Art in America, 25 March 2011).
Seeking to expose the crude materiality of his resources, Bradley approaches painting in a process-driven, almost performative manner. Using unprimed canvas, spread imperfectly across a simple stretcher frame, Bradley emphasizes the natural creases and warps that occur upon its surface. His method is heuristic, organic and deliberately time-consuming, marked by long periods of stasis and reflection in front of the canvas. ‘I usually have some kind of source material to work off of – a drawing or a found image – but this ends up getting buried in the process’, he explains. ‘Most of the painting happens on the floor, then I’ll pin them up periodically to see what they look like on the wall. I work on both sides of the painting too. If one side starts to feel unmanageable, I’ll turn it over and screw around with the other side ... because I am working onunprepared canvas, I get this bleed through. The oil paint will bleed through to the other side, so I get this sort of incidental mark’ (J. Bradley, quoted in interview with R. Simonini, ‘Joe Bradley’, Believer, July 2012, p. 65).

For Bradley, painting is a fundamentally immersive process that bridges the passage of time. ‘With painting I always get the impression that you’re sort of entering into a shared space’, he explains. ‘There’s everyone who’s painted in the past, and everyone who is painting in the present… You can be in conversation with those men and women in the caves – it’s like yesterday, you know? I think that time moves slower in painting ... It’s just a very human activity that takes time’ (J. Bradley quoted in L. Hoptman, ‘Joe Bradley’, Interview Magazine, reproduced at ttp://www.interviewmagazine.com/art/joe-bradley [accessed 13 September 2015]). The almost archaeological nature of his canvases bear witness to this conviction: layered with dust and detritus, and often imprinted with traces of his shoes and body, his paintings becomes sites of history, harbouring the evidence of their own creation. For this reason, his works accrue meaning retrospectively, functioning as records of the artist’s own subconscious impulses. ‘The ones I am happiest with I have no idea how I arrived at’, he explains. The best ones are always a real surprise’ (J. Bradley, quoted in S. LaCava, ‘Studio Visit: Joe Bradley’, The Paris Review, February 2011, reproduced at http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2011/02/22/joe-bradley/ [accessed 17 September 2014]).

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