In his new exhibition, GEN, Ry David Bradley continues a longstanding investigation of 21st century painting. Presenting a series of paintings, Bradley advances his provocations of what is meant by ‘image-making’ using a hybrid of digital and painting technologies. Constructed in a manner that almost confuses viewers of the boundaries between to two, Bradley, the alchemist, forges a new materiality.
In today’s screen-centric world, a conflation between the private and global occurs. Bradley’s pressing concern is how stories from the digital generation will be passed down through time. Bradley studied New Media Video and Internet Art in the early 2000s, believing it was the medium of his generation. Due to concerns about its longevity and accessibility, he shifted his focus to painting as a medium that does not require power or software and will not become outdated or inaccessible through upgrades.
As Cameron Hurst writes for Sullivan+Strumpf ’s magazine “Once Bradley generates his ethereal scenes, he manipulates the imagses using digital processes—diffusing light, altering textures, refining compositions. He then works with a specialist printer to transfer the images onto Parisian linen using a wide-format machine. The result is a matte surface with a flat, paint-like quality. Then, Bradley starts painting by hand. To add another meta-technological reference, Bradley’s acrylic strokes are attempts to replicate the pattern stamp textures of his software brushes (which themselves attempt to replicate the blurred effects of real paint on canvas).
The presence of grey in Bradley’s work rewards attention.There is a twenty-first century technological sensibility to it. Neutral grey is the default colour of a Photoshop background; it is also the colour of sleekly minimal Apple products, some of the most desirable and influential objects of our epoch. A metallic coolness is discernible in the works in GEN. Bradley says that one reason he chooses to work in grayscale is because of the optical illusion created by layering the same tones in different materials. And it’s true—viewing the work, there is a moment of misrecognition. What is paint and what is print? What is real and what is a glowing, AI-generated mirage?”
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