bradley bell

Untitled (April), 2020
Oil and acrylic on canvas
, 48 x 36 inches

artist statement

this painting is about ketamine and hating school and listening to pc music and SSRIs and name dropping bars in new york and drinking topo chico and being non-binary and owning a pre-revolutionary musket and almost being able to kickflip and this painting is about being unemployed and taking SSRIs and harm reduction and spicy potato soft taco (rip) and calling everything cottagecore and getting blitzed with my girls and buying costume jewelry from boutique shops and forgetting to take my SSRIs and using for and having uti but then the uti just goes away on its own. 
I am primarily concerned with how the lineage of painting relates to a society structured around images. A culture in which we experience our physical reality more through digitally rendered representation of the referent then the tangible source material itself. As public space slowly begins obsolescing and we catalogue the built environment through various media, the signifier has seemed to have replaced the sign. I aim to investigate where the act of painting fits into this equation and how I can remain inspired by Diebenkorn’s landscapes while barely going outside.

With this work, the marks shift between abstract, gestural, drawing based line work to constructing the structure of a figurative character, based on the the aggregated human form crowdsourced from overproduced human output. The marks were accumulated through months of layers starting around the beginning of lockdown in April 2020. I then highlighted and specified the paint through layers of white paint acting like a whiteboard eraser covering and defining the line work. I used fluorescent pigments in order to adhere it to an existence beyond the natural world, as well as collaged paper and found images sourced from the mass amounts of election mail I was receiving at the time, as they seemed designed to portray the institutional understanding of “everyone”. The image peaking through on the bottom of the cacophony of lines and brushstrokes depicts these systemically fabricated archetypes looking bewildered at the form appearing above them, with the paint dripping down, about to consume them next. The line work is vague enough for the viewer to act in the position of an artist and formulate their own images and experiences within them, as they gesture towards familiar forms while remaining free to work as an inquiry into their own development as formal elements.