Fear of Waves

Katherine Bradford
Fear Of WavesJanuary 9 - February 14, 2016
Opening reception: Saturday, January 9th, 2016

Canada is pleased to present “Fear of Waves” a one-person exhibition by Katherine Bradford which will be held in the main space of the gallery.  This new body of work is an expansion on themes and ideas that she has cultivated in her Brooklyn studio over the course of a long and meaningful practice.  As the title of the show suggests, the paintings are depictions of water and swimmers, both playful and profound.

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.

Through the luminous palette of soft blues and fleshy peach we see an artist unmoored, finding new light and space in her paintings. It is easy to imagine Bradford at work, brushing and erasing slowly, finding pleasure and discovery as she draws on memories and sensations. We are witnessing an artist coming into full command of her poetry. Soak it in like January sunshine, because it as beautiful as it is rare.

Katherine Bradford is a long time member of the New York art community.  She has shown her work at P.S. 1, The Brooklyn Museum, and countless galleries in New York and abroad including CANADA’s own “New York’s Finest,” a group show curated by Wallace Whitney and Brendan Cass in 2006 that included many of the gallery’s stable of artists.  In 2011 Bradford was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and in 2012 a Joan Mitchell Grant.  She has taught as a resident faculty at Skowhegan in 2009 and for many years was on the MFA faculty of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.  Her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum, and the Portland Museum of Art.