Guest Blog written by Doreen Schmid
Lisa Bradley paintings at RoCo
MAKERS & MENTORS
at Rochester Contemporary Art Center
February 6 – March 6, 2014
In 1973 when Lisa Bradley was a 21-year old student in Carl Chiarenza’s Art History class, he wrote: ” Lisa Bradley is a gifted, natural artist. Her paintings display a mature style and commitment extraordinary for a person of her years…(they) are about the marshalling of forces which are strong and self-sustaining, and yet humble before a dominant power.” Six years later, in 1979, he described the paintings comprising her second-one-woman show in New York, as “All at once they partake of each other and are one… a grand colliding merger posing new possibilities-of movement and time.”
Bradley lost contact with Chiarenza for more than 35 years after his initial recognition of her talent and encouragement to have faith in her vision. But when they reconnected – after she was asked to participate in the RoCo exhibition, he reiterated that, “I always knew you had it.” Bradley in response wonders if perhaps this is what artists say to other artists who are after the same “truth” and when they realize another artist has expressed it.
Milton Chiu, a philosophy and religion professor who was another early supporter of Bradley’s said that her images reminded him of a Chinese painting of a dragon emerging momentarily from the mist and then receding. He considered this a symbol of the “truth” revealing itself for an instant.
Bradley’s work is representative of the dynamic energy of the immersive state of “flow”where every moment is at once ephemeral and eternal. This is manifested in the way her masterful brushwork creates energetic elements that then diffuse and disappear. The work contains a shimmering volition, a force often energetically coalescing into a vortex that disperses into a glimmer.
For the viewer her work summons a deep attention to the meditative intent of acquiescence. One senses storm and sky, wind and wave, and a hint of Francis Bacon’s suggestiveness in his more abstract work giving way to the conscious beginnings of shape. Bradley skillfully fragments and links light to the concept of flight, so that one senses movement emerging out of still shadows and yearning toward something inexpressible.
It is evident, in their reuniting in the RoCo group exhibition honoring a regional son, that Bradley and Chiarenza have shared from the start the lifelong pursuit of creating stunning abstract work in the pursuit of an ever-elusive “truth.”