I live in a seaside tourist town (this weekend is the "Cabin Fever Festival") so I'm surrounded by impressionistic paintings of boats, water, beach, drawbridge and so forth. In the group show of gallery artists on view at Edward Thorp, Katherine Bradford's paintings prove that ships and the sea are not necessarily the trite, shopworn subjects I thought they were. In an old issue of the Brooklyn Rail, Bradford spoke with Chris Martin and Peter Acheson about her work. Here's a quick excerpt:
Martin: You spend a lot of your life up in Maine. Has Maine affected your painting light and sense of landscape?
Bradford: Well, it’s funny. I started painting when I was living in Maine, and the last thing I wanted to do was be a boat painter living in Maine. In fact this ocean liner painting, “Lost Liner”, comes a little bit from Maine. You can see it’s stranded on a beach. This is what the beaches look like in Maine, they’re mudflats. Also the big painting “Desire for Transport,” has this Maine ocean feeling with a horizon line with islands in the distance. I read that the painter Enzo Cucci said that he doesn’t paint the ocean, he paints the presence of the ocean. I’m trying to paint a feeling about what it’s like on the open seas at night—a really intoxicating feeling....I think we’re trying to speak a language, a visual language, and it takes a long time to develop a very personal vocabulary. It certainly took me years and years to find my own voice. And I wouldn’t say it has anything to do with age; it had to do with sticking to it, and doing it a lot, like an athlete. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that you know what you are doing—you just have to trust in being the blind mole.
"New Work: Gallery Artists," Edward Thorp, New York, NY. Through March 7.