SAN FRANCISCO – On the occasion of Sotheby’s opening new offices in San Francisco, S|2 is pleased to present S|2 x SF, an exhibition of three young and emerging artists highlighting the evolving trajectory of contemporary painting. Among the artists featured in the exhibition, William Bradley is a stellar example of an innovative approach to abstraction through his merging of traditional painting methods and technology – in this first of a series of interviews, we discover Bradley's inspiration and the processes behind his work.
How are the paintings in this exhibition made, can you explain your process?
My paintings are the result of a design process which brings together intuitive gestures and marks along with quotations and references to the world around me and to the history of Abstraction. Beginning as immediate drawn responses these are then formulated in to ink and watercolour sketches. These drawings or plans are then manipulated via the computer to refine the watercolour marks into something with more of a digital signature. Colour choices are also explored and refined at this point moving towards something more akin to the final painting. This digital blueprint is then transcribed onto the canvas and provides the starting point for painterly process and intuition to come back in. The finished work becomes a conversation between the different stages of the process.
These paintings have a connection with the digital, can you describe that?
The importance of the digital aspect of my process is that it reflects how, for the most part, I experienced art growing up. Much of my exposure to the history of painting came via the screen and this reflects something much wider within the modern condition.
Do you have a preferred medium?
There is something about oil painting, the materials, the processes that I find satisfying far beyond other mediums.
What role does size play in your paintings?
Even while producing my preliminary drawings at an intimate scale I am thinking big, I know the marks and forms I am working with will translate with much more potency on a larger scale.
What is the selection process like behind your choice of colors?
Colour choices are normally pinned down via the computer, it allows me to reference the digital, advertising, cartoons, graphic design. Primarily I am drawing on these references as well as experience to create bold, challenging, vibrant, surprising, effective colour relationships.
How do you define abstract painting?
I don’t, it is a term that encompasses so many possible approaches. I don’t like to close it down.
What inspires you?
Anything and everything. Primarily I look to certain touchstones, American Abstract Expressionism, British Abstract Sculpture, Miro, Chillida, Hoyland. But these serve to provide clues as to how to deal with source imagery taken from the world around me.
How do you find your work changes based on the city you’re working in?
Atmosphere, mood, the light all have a huge effect on the work. Be it the imagery that inspires the painting or the tone that results from my state of mind within my surroundings.
What is a day in the studio like for you, what is your routine?
Coffee, music, paint, beer. Beyond that I try to avoid routine.
What is your next project or exhibition?
I am currently developing ideas for solo shows in New York and Berlin for the first half of next year.
William Bradley in his studio, 2015.
William Bradley was born in 1984 in York, United Kingdom, and currently lives and works between London and Yorkshire. Inspired by legendary Abstract Expressionists like Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning, Bradley reconsiders the history of abstraction by employing a multi-step process that involves drawing, watercolour and computer renderings prior to painting. Using computer compositions as the starting point for his paintings, Bradley merges the physical and digital by handpainting the original, technologically engineered images. He completed his undergraduate education at York St John University and later received a Master's degree in painting at Wimbledon College of Art in 2008. Bradley has exhibited extensively in New York and London, having had solo and group shows with such galleries as Joshua Liner, New York; Galerie Richard, New York; and EB & Flow Gallery, London. His work is included in such esteemed collections as The Hort Family, New York and the David Roberts Art Foundation, London.