Katherine Bradford At Edward Thorp Gallery

By Kyle Gallup

Midsummer Night, 2012, Oil on canvas, 61 x 69 inchesUpon entering Katherine Bradford’s show at Edward Thorp Gallery it’s easy to see why so many painters love her work. Her color shines like a beacon across the canvas, illuminating her stories, both whimsical and mysterious. Her approach to painting feels open and considered, never automatic.

The lush surfaces reveal under-painting and a sense that she is searching for her subjects, allowing them to reveal themselves slowly through the painting process and within their own invented time. The layering becomes part of the narrative and gives the work depth and spontaneity.
Ship Blue/Red, 2011, Oil on canvas, 32 x 28 inches.I admire how Bradford is able to balance abstract elements with figurative images, both sharing equal time, neither losing their distinctive differences while adding a fluid interrelatedness. One example is “Ship Blue/Red.” A bright, emblematic red shape of paint thrusts down into the middle of the canvas from the top-left edge and crosses paths with the lacy transparent mast of a passing ship momentarily anchored by a black hull on the bottom edge of the painting. This is a bold yet delicate picture.
Superman Responds, Night, 2011, Oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches.In other works, opaque whites and pinks share space with modulated darks and light up all the other colors. There are sassy orange and yellow dots, and aqua blues that become sky and sea. Gravity free, small floating or falling superheroes are suspended in richly painted grounds or fly through space from one end of the canvas to the other.
Long Flight,  2011, Oil on canvas, 66 x 84 inches.Ships come into being both flat and with volume, magisterial, and brightly lit. The shape’s edges navigate the ground color from which they emerge.

Bradford is exploring different pictorial ideas from one picture to another but for me, the narrative aspect to the paintings is what unifies them. She’s a visual storyteller with a celestial sense of light and a deep reservoir of ideas.
Sargasso, 2012, Oil on canvas, 56 x 66 inches.

Kyle Gallup is an artist who works in collage and watercolor.