New York, NY – 31 December 2016: Sperone Westwater is pleased to present a show of new paintings by Katherine Bradford on the gallery’s third floor. This series of six large-scale paintings revisits the watery realms and touches the far reaches of outer space; atmospheres that were prevalent in the artist’s show Fear of Waves at her CANADA exhibition in January 2016. This is Bradford’s first show at Sperone Westwater.
These new canvases feature small groups of swimmers, existing luminously in textured expanses, illuminated brightly against backdrops of deep ultramarine and purple oceans and ponds. These subjects, themes, and ideas have been the careful product of a long and meaningful practice in the artist’s Brooklyn and Maine studios. Months, and sometimes years of slow application and re-application are required in order to build the surface of each painting to a point of completion.
Bradford’s palette plays a prominent role here. In Shell Seeker, Large Night (2016), a thin wash of turquoise hazily obscures the bodies of many swimmers. Two figures remain floating atop the waves, though several of their companions begin to disappear beneath layers of painted ocean, some almost entirely. This playful and eerie scene transpires beneath an extraordinary dreamlike cosmos alight with bright and swirling galaxies, stars and planets that mimic the gentle and ebbing oceans below. Hints of red, green, and yellow appear amidst the sky and stand out against the deeper and darker background that persists throughout the artist’s new work. In Bonfire (2016), Bradford departs from her watery world of swimmers and depicts a gathering of figures, shrouded in black, entranced by an enormous blaze.
Katherine Bradford is a long time member of the New York art community. In 2011 Bradford was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and in 2012 a Joan Mitchell Grant. She taught as a resident faculty member at Skowhegan in 2009, and for many years was on the MFA faculty of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Bradford is currently Senior Critic for the MFA painting program at the Yale School of Art in New Haven. Her work is in several public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The Hall Foundation, and the Portland Museum of Art.