Texan artist Bradley Kerl paints a world that would be really rather lovely to live in. His still life paintings present everyday details that often go a miss, championing their charm.
Born and raised in the southeast of Texas, Bradley has settled in Houston, moving there to begin a graduate program where he set to work on his idyllic and relatable still lifes. “I wanted to start the program with a fresh perspective, and still life painting seemed to be the best option to do that,” says the artist. To begin Bradley would arrange the objects he wanted to paint in front of him, but only made “two, maybe three paintings this way before I became bored”. As a result, Bradley opened up his practice. He began to introduce drawing techniques, photography and collage, “as a way to reinterpret the still life, so that the visual information was filtered through a camera, drawing or collage, before being painted”.
This shift in approach, particularly collage, was a revelation for Bradley. “It freed me from being tied to the objects I had at my disposal and from being so literal with the imagery. I could bring source material into a painting from literally anywhere!” Now Bradley’s process involves, “making drawings from casual snapshots of daily life, which I then make a painting from. I go back and forth between watercolour, small oil studies and iPad drawings as source material”. Therefore the items involved vary in shape but their context is cheerful and familiar, “flowers from dinner parties, gifts from friends and snapshots from hanging out with my family”.
In terms of influences Bradley looks to the painting elite, “Edouard Manet, Henri Matisse, Giorgio Morandi, David Hockney and Peter Doig… I also really love some younger guys like Torey Thornton, Daniel Heidkamp, Shara Hughes, Katherine Berhardt,” to name just a few of his inspirations. A collection of names Bradley’s work certainly sits comfortably within.
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