In paintings tempered by humor, David Bradley “portrays human conditions and personal relationships that would be too controversial in another form.” The dry, highly observant, personal humor in his narrative paintings bridges the gap between the cartoon and fine art tradition, giving them an immediate, visceral impact. With obvious delight and deceptively gentle social satire, Bradley skewers offending persons, stereotypes, and ideologies. He can be cutting and ruthless in his depictions of tragic, heartrending histories significant to him, and yet attain a gentle, almost reverent, tone in his depictions of landscape, family, and friends.
A deep connection with the artistic process unifies Bradley’s narrative and abstract paintings, multimedia works, and sculptures. His all-over attention to the surface, in which each area of the composition is given equal attention and significance, resists focal points, inviting viewers to wander the canvas from top to bottom following lines, shapes, colors, and concepts. His use of strong colors, patterned surfaces, generalized light, absence of expressive brushwork, and an overall flatness and linearity, enhance the illusory aspect, which gives precedence to the idea.
Significant works of art reveal complexity as we engage with them over time. Intentionally, Bradley constructs seemingly chaotic narratives that combine the unlikely with the absurd, leaving us to ponder how all the elements are related, define each other, and are harmonious. For each viewer understanding resides in personal, social, and cultural histories as well as a willingness to question closely held assumptions.
This exhibition has been organized by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology, Santa Fe, NM and circulated through GuestCurator Traveling Exhibitions.
David Bradley, El Farol, Canyon Road Cantina, 2000, Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 60 in. Gift of James and Margie Krebs, New Mexico Museum of Art, 2004.2.7, Courtesy Museum of Indian Arts and Culture