ANGELL GALLERY is pleased to present Ellipsis, the fourth solo exhibition by New York-based Bradley Wood. The exhibition runs from Thursday, October 10 to Saturday, November 9, 2019. An opening reception with the artist will be held on Thursday, October 10 at 7:00 p.m.
One of Bradley Wood’s favorite films is The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) by the Spanish-Mexican film director Luis Buñuel, a surrealist satire about six upper class friends whose attempts to dine together are constantly thwarted by strange events. They are indignant when their desires aren't met or when their opinions are challenged, feeling that others acquiescing to them is the natural order of things.
Similar themes play out in Wood’s paintings: chic figures of a specific social class often lounging in near-palatial settings (the stars of Buñuel's film, Delphine Seyrig and Stephane Audran, would look right at home in a Wood canvas). In fact, early on Wood studied experimental film at Cal-Arts. “I spent the beginning of my art career as an immersive video artist,” says Wood. “I was in some group shows around New York, and thought I'd become a filmmaker but I'm not patient enough. I switched to painting for many reasons, including the gratification and immediacy of it, but my passion for film remains.”
An ellipsis, as a narrative device used in film, is the practice of omitting a section of events that are either obvious or concealed for the purpose of the story. “I can feel a bit like a film director, creating characters and the mise-en-scènes against which narratives can unfold,” he says. But, in paintings such as Almost Lost, Wood is also interested in conveying the materiality of film – how it can be scratched, burned and marked, either by mistake or intentionally for art – through pigment. “In his best-known film, Free Radicals (1958), Len Lye scratched lines and other forms onto the film,” explains Wood. “He and others, like Stan Brakhage, would also create abstract animations by drawing or painting directly onto the film, or letting light leaks intentionally 'ruin' the film. In a sense, with this show I'm experimenting with the opposite, using film elements to manipulate the painting.”
Filmmakers like Brakhage and Lye aimed to leave viewers feeling destabilized, the jostling shapes and colours in their films keeping the eye in continuous motion. The same could be said for the juxtapositions of colours, patterns, forms and perspectives in Wood's paintings, the arsenal for which is added to constantly. Wood visited Sweden this summer, where he sought out interesting vintage furniture and textile designs in antique shops. He also spent time looking at work by Swedish artists he admires like Sven Erixson, whose paintings from the 1930s and 40s reflect the influence of German Expressionism. A new discovery was an early 20th Century painter named Sigrid Hjertén whose work focused on societal roleplay.
In this new body of work, Wood asks the viewer to consider his paintings as film stills: single moments that are as much about the scenes presented as those that might have come before and after.