03 November 2011

William Bradley


Can you briefly describe what you do?

I make paintings about abstraction. More specifically I’m concerned with how meaning is produced within abstract painting. To this end I move in and around various positions, combining many elements from within its history with external visual sources and quotations.

What drives you to make work?

A need to better understand what it is that fascinates me about painting.

Can you tell me something of your day-to-day working practices?

I work in distinct stages. I will spend a few months developing ideas through drawing in ink and watercolour. I then select those I feel will develop into the most interesting paintings and transcribe the designs on to flat colour grounds. This marks the beginning of a few months putting together a group of paintings.

How long have you been working in that way?

For a few years, the move towards a kind of design process was a major turning point in my work.

Which artists have had the greatest affect on your work?

There are so many. Growing up close to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park meant that Hepworth, Moore and Caro made a lasting impression but it was an exhibition of the work of Eduardo Chillida which first moved me toward abstraction. I adore his sculpture but it was his work on paper and his ‘gravitations’ which sparked my first steps down this path. American Abstract Expressionism obviously has had a huge affect and I continue to react to their arguments as well as their imagery. British painters like Sandra Blow, Peter Lanyon, Patrick Heron, John Hoyland and more recently Dan Perfect, Philip Allen, Danny Rolph and Stuart Cumberland. Probably the greatest impact has been made by Thomas Scheibitz. His approach of generating images from a vast number of sources has proved incredibly important in my practice.

What, outside visual art, informs your practice?

Everything is fair game and there is no hierarchy in my approach. I am filtering many elements from things such as graphic design, advertising, cartoons, architecture, anything that I find useful.

How would you like people to engage with your work?

In their own way. I purposefully try to set up ‘ways in’ for the viewer. Some people can respond to a painting in a purely visceral way, others look for clues for interpretation or the familiar. I load my paintings with cues and quotations, alluding to the familiar in an attempt to set up a situation where the viewer utilises their own experience as a means of deriving meaning.

Have you seen anything recently that has made an impression?

Some work by Sally Taylor. It wasn’t at all what I expected from the images I had seen and was, in the flesh, quite beautiful. Loved the work of Neil Ayling. The Sparrowhawk in the back garden, not uncommon but beautiful.

Do you have anything exciting on the horizon?

The new body of work I’m developing, it’s the most excited I’ve been about a group of paintings in a while. Beyond that 2012 looks like it should be a good year.

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