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oil on canvas
285.7 x 274.3 cm. (112 1/2 x 108 in.)
Painted in 2013
Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York
Acquired at the above by the present owner
Joe Bradley, exh. cat., Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, 2017 (illustrated).
New York, Gavin Brown Enterprise, Lotus Beaters, May - June 2013.
Dijon, Le Consortium, Joe Bradley, June - September 2014.
Buffalo, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Joe Bradley, June – October 2017. This exhibition later traveled to Massachusetts, Rose Art Museum.

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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’ Brian Boucher

Executed in 2013, Dutch exemplifies the celebrated primitive style of Joe Bradley’s coveted period which has cemented his reputation as one of the leading artists of his generation. An enormous, muscular painting that spans nearly three meters tall, Dutch showcases the directness of Bradley’s technique—a lively explosion of visceral mark-making. Upon its raw, tactile base, sprinkled blocks of black, canary yellow and scarlet red paints jostle and collide, intersected by streaks of blue and burnt orange. Leaving his canvases on the studio floor to accumulate dirt and debris, Bradley allures to the unintended traces and marks that slowly amass upon the surfaces which will gradually reconfigure and affix in new orders. His practice invokes a rich art-historical lineage with its adoption of a broad array of painterly gestures—from Jackson Pollock’s action painting to Franz Kline’s sweeping brushwork. As Brian Boucher once stated, ‘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).

In Dutch, Bradley develops his composition in a process-driven, almost performative manner in hopes of exposing the crude corporeality of his resources. His works from this period are typically executed on the raw, unprimed canvas—a material that reminisces paper and allows a more direct interaction throughout the process. As the artist once recalled, ‘Unprimed canvas looks like paper in a way; to me it looks like newsprint…when you have a primed surface, the paint just kind of skates across the surface, and the brushstrokes, the mark, just kind of stand up, in a way. But when you’re working on unprimed canvas, it’s sort of—you’re almost etching into the surface' (J. Bradley, quoted in P. Bui, “Art in Conversation: Joe Bradley with Phong Bui,” Brooklyn Rail, February 3, 2011). Using unprimed canvas spreads imperfectly across a stretcher frame, Bradley emphasises the natural creases and warps that occur upon its surface. His method is deliberately time-consuming and organic, delineated by substantial 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 on unprepared 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). In his series of paintings that consist of large planes of brushily-rendered primary colours like the present work, Bradley’s particular balance of ‘macho elegance’ has reached a new level of refinement, inducing the simple visual vocabularies of Hans Hofmann and Josef Albers yet remains a strict honesty and truth-to-material and garners greater critical and commercial acclaims of late.

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