Thursday, February 4, 2016

Happening : Katherine Bradford at Canada Gallery

Painting and swimming share immersion and a certain loss of control that is simultaneously wild and structured. The body in nature; we see ourselves situated in relationship to the deep other. In Bradford’s paintings there is often a clear differentiation between swimmer and water, yet one senses she enjoys painting both equally. Bradford’s swimmers are not lit from some external light source but seem to generate their own brightness. The world seems milky and dreamlike. This comes from the act of painting, the painter breathing light and life into her canvasses. Bradford spends months and sometimes years building up the surfaces of her paintings, slowly changing the paintings through repeated application of thinned out acrylic paint or scuffed on thicker stuff. The fact that this gradual activity creates animation and a floating quality is something close to miraculous. The act of moving a figure a little to the left or right then becomes both the history and the surface of the final painting. 

Bradford often refers to the humor in her paintings. In the past the subject matter pointed more obviously in this direction: UFOs with tractor beams, Superman, Skinny boxers with raised gloves and lonesome ocean liners were used to create a self-depreciating painterly pop encyclopedia. The work in “Fear of Waves” is Bradford’s most figurative thus far and holds pathos and humor in equal measure. A signature painting in the show “Fear of Waves” is a huge canvas bisected by an awesome chevron. On the left side there is a crowd of happy swimmers (including a naked Lady) playing happily while the right holds only the froth and fume left by a set of monstrous waves. This painting holds the key, the delicate balance of joy and fear.

No comments: