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The importance of the digital aspect of my process is that it reflects how, for the most part, I experienced art growing up. Much of my exposure to the history of painting came via the screen and this reflects something much wider within the modern condition. 

William Bradley was born in 1984 in York, United Kingdom and currently lives and works between London and New York. Inspired by legendary Abstract Expressionists like Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning, Bradley reconsiders the history of abstraction by employing a multi-step process that involves drawing, watercolor and computer renderings prior to painting. Using computer compositions as the starting point for his paintings, Bradley merges the physical and digital by hand painting the original, technologically engineered images.

Bradley has exhibited extensively in New York and London, having had solo and group shows with such galleries as Joshua Liner, New York; Galerie Richard, New York and EB & Flow Gallery, London. His work is included in such esteemed collections as The Hort Family, New York and David Roberts Art Foundation, London.

William Bradley’s paintings distort art historical references deconstructing the role of abstraction in both modernism and contemporary art practice. Bradley defies previous notions of abstract art history by recycling past formulas from Abstract Expressionist artists such as Rothko, de Kooning and Motherwell. As Vincent Honoré, Director of the David Roberts Art Foundation, claims ‘William Bradley is a perverse Abstract Expressionist’.

Bradley’s work is both abstract art and about abstract art. Viewing the idea of the pure abstract language as problematised by its lack of communication from artist to viewer, Bradley builds in a more communal language of references or quotes from abstract art history, from Abstract Expressionism and artists such as John Hoyland, Sandra Blow and Eduardo Chillida.

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“The viewer brings their own history, their own emotion, their own knowledge to a work and thus they bring their own reading and interpretation of the work. They complete it, the work reflects back at them their own thoughts, their own emotions and it is at this point when a painting truly becomes meaningful.”

- William Bradley

The work looks at the painted depiction of painted codes, the new body looks increasingly to Photoshop as a tool for the manipulation of these codes. Digitally modifying the scanned watercolours creates a new plan which moves yet another step away from the immediacy of the original authorial mark. The resultant painting may reference gestural marks or codes from the history of Abstraction but this is coloured by its digital pre-planning. Thus the gestural elements of the work are less about the intuitive use of paint and more a device concerned with the combining of source material and reference.

“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t make things, its entirely inconceivable to me. I can certainly describe when I first knew I had to pursue Abstraction in some form or another. It was on seeing a major show of sculptures and paper works by Eduardo Chillida at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park that changed everything for me. The way he could continue his exploration of form from epic metal monoliths through to the most economical use of line drawing has left an indelible mark on me.”

 

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