Shell Seekers

Opening Reception: May 14, 3 – 6 PM

Gallery Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 10 AM – 6 PM

“Boats and swimmers appear in my paintings because the surfaces I create tend to resemble water.”

-Katherine Bradford

Canada is pleased to announce “Shell Seekers”, a solo exhibition by Katherine Bradford, the first show at the gallery’s location in East Hampton.  It's hard to imagine a more fitting show to inaugurate this new exhibition space, located at 98 Newtown Lane, than Bradford’s ode to water seekers of all stripes.  Pensive at water’s edge or floating free in the Bardo, Bradford’s swimmers occupy a myriad of spaces, both psychological and natatorial.

Katherine Bradford has said that she chooses to paint swimmers because the thinned down acrylic paint she uses began to suggest water to her.  It is interesting to think that the material came first and offered the painter a motif.  The washes of paint feel like the cool curl of a wave has passed over the surfaces, submerging figures in washes of semi-transparent paint.  The drips and flow of the color add a sense of motion, and the ever-obscuring layers create a feeling of mystery.  Deep bluish purple suggests an indeterminate time of day, somewhere between night and day.

Figures seem both completely legible yet slightly out of reach.  Often faceless, Bradford renders her figures without individuality, but full of allegorical power.  The inhabitants of the paintings feel caught up in some sort of drama or an unnamable awkward moment, situations they are only passingly in control of.  The depth of Bradford’s experience as a painter allows the paintings to feel both ambiguous and utterly under the artist’s command.

Time spent by the sea with family or friends, in our collective memory, is usually full of pleasure and relaxation. There is some of that in Bradford’s depictions of life by the water, jaunty striped bathing suits or a confident backstroke attest to that, but Bradford pushes further; plumbing the oddness of recreation.  We carry everything with us everywhere, even when we are doing our best to unwind.  And, in fact, leisure often casts our true selves and flawed relationships into high relief.  The paintings are bracing like the slap of a wave or as soothing as aloe vera on a sunburned shoulder.