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Photo of Stephen Bradbury.Artist. Art page at www.stephenbradbury.com.















More bits about me    Art

Artists consciously and sub-consciously are influenced by the visual world, they see around them. Landscape, the environment, urban or rural, the places we live and work in, seep into our being.

Like other people, our senses are blasted on a regular basis by the media and advertising.

In Pop Art, this effect was used to great effect by Andy Warhol. Think Campbell's Soup, think Andy Warhol's silkscreen prints.

Richard Hamilton's famous collage, Just What is itThat Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing (1956), used symbols of mass media, popular culture and advertising to great effect. Showing us how we absorb and become affected by imagery and visual reference points in our daily lives and choices, as consumers.

I deliberately do not own a television. It must be over 20 years since I had one. Personally, I hate the intrusion of it and I just wonder, sometimes, that it makes it  hard for people to hear, that 'quiet voice', with so much noise and distraction. 


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ART 

Where do you start ?

A few years ago, I decided to do a Degree in The History of Modern Art. I would describe myself, as an art lover. I acknowledge the intellectual content within works of art, but believe that it should never become the dominant factor in how we look at, or assess  the work. Whilst there is an intellectual content in my own work, I believe the paintings that  I produce are always accessible to the person viewing them. The lives, biographies of artists fascinate me. Since cavemen painted their wonderful cave paintings, the boundaries of art have been pushed forward, and barriers and prejudices, one by one broken  down. Although I might not like what I see in front of me sometimes, I respect the vision of the artist in their works placed before me, and don't just reject out of hand, what they are doing, like the establishment has often done in the past.

There are so many artists and works that I like, but below are a few I truly like, and admire.

Maxfield Parrish

When I was an up and coming, illustrator, it was people like Maxfield Parrish and the Pre-Raphaelites, who impressed me greatly. The story about me, and the Pre-Raphaelites paintings in the Manchester Art Gallery, and Sir John Everett Millais painting, AutumnLeaves (1856)  has been mentioned a lot, but Maxfield Parrish, opened my eyes.

The importance of the landscape within his work, the mountains, lakes and waterfalls is all there. But it's the colours he uses. The clash of blue in the background and yellow in the foreground, or orange and blue, gives it all an air of fantasy.
The figures look a bit old fashioned now, but when you think these works, which really are works of art, were used for advertisements, then, wow ! They take your breath away.    Maxfield Parrish

Picasso

A few years ago, my wife gave me a huge, blue, Taschen, book on Picasso, for my birthday. I'd already started to veer away from illustration, and in my heart, I knew I wanted to be a painter. Reading this book confirmed to me, that art should have meaning, be a diary of the artist's life and a commentary on the human condition and the World, and the environment, physically and mentally, in which we live. Picasso's paintings, right the way through his long career and life were a diary of his life, struggles, places he lived, war, wives, lovers and children. He truly was a genius. Everyday I discover new pictures or sculptures by him, the man was truly prolific.
Picasso was never truly an abstract painter,there always remained, the traces of a figurative element within his work. In my own work, I use abstract shapes and colours as a language, a signifier, to describe the underlying thoughts, feelings, sexual undercurrents etc that lie within our hearts and minds, often unspoken. I've been to many Picasso exhibitions, and always end up  feeling both elated and deflated, just sitting there awestruck at the man's skill and vitality.  Picasso

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon too, uses a form of abstraction and lines, to signify interiors and the space around the figure. I love the use of space within his compositions, and raw portrayal of the human body.            Francis Bacon

Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko is another painter I've come to love and respect. The scale of his  later paintings and the way they compel you to look at them closely as well as at a distance becomes a spiritual experience. On the later, dark, black, canvases, his use of matt and gloss paint is truly brilliant. If you get close up to the canvas you see the faint edges of the dividing line between saturated and surface paint.                      Mark Rothko

Willem de Kooning

Willem de Kooning started his career in art as a commercial artist. Working as a graphic artist and window dresser in department stores. He wanted to be a painter. Eventually, he made the transition, but looked back with pride at the work ethos and grounding that his early career had instilled in him. His portrayal of women in his canvases are raw and often scary. Woman 1, is hard to look at, she's intimidating. Like Picasso's Les Demoiselles D'Avignon, he's re-defined the way we look at women. Gone is the aesthetic, female goddess of the Renaissance and Victorian era. Picasso, Bacon and deKooning have all changed the visual portrayal of the human body.         Willem de Kooning

Henry Moore

Like Picasso, I just can't get enough of Henry Moore. I love his drawings. I grew up in that era when every city around the World had to have a Henry Moore in their civic centres. Looking back, at his work, I marvel at the direct carving of his early sculptures, and I love the sheer size and presence of his later bronzes. His observations on shapes and the way we consciously and subconsciously recognise them, and respond to them, is something I see evident in his work. I use  those signifiers myself.There's something about his drawings though, that just enthrals me. I'd love to own one.  Henry Moore

Who else?  

Howard Hodgkin, His use of colour and the inclusion of the frame is terrific.     Howard Hodgkin

Jeff Koons, I love the humour, the way he turns banal things and kitsch things monumental.  Jeff Koons
 
Anish Kapoor, there's a certain, class, to his work that is cerebral as well as physical though I was quite annoyed that I wasn't allowed to photograph myself reflected in one of his mirror pieces at Manchester Art Gallery's recent exhibition of his work. The gallery steward told me, Mr Kapoor had given strict instructions not to allow it. Bit sad ! The balance between wanting respect for our work, as artists and giving people access is difficult, but some artists go to extremes and become anal !

Henri Matisse, of course. How can you not be influenced by Matisse's use of colour !   Henri Matisse

Peter Lanyon 

A true Cornishman. His knowledge and love for Cornwall is evident within his work. His sense of 'place', of the land, and the sea are a powerful ingredient in his paintings and a true reminder to all the myriad artists in Cornwall, that Cornwall, the place, should not be trivialised, and mass produced in art for the  benefit of tourists. I have been guilty of it in the past, myself. Never again ! The recent exhibition and retrospective of his work at Tate, St Ives was terrific. Peter Lanyon

John Waterhouse

My true love, these days is modern art, but I have to come back to this late Pre-Raphaelite painter. I went to the John Waterhouse Exhibition at the Royal Academy last year in London and truly enjoyed it. More illustrator, than painter, like a lot of Pre-Raphaelites, the works are there to be enjoyed for the stories they tell, the artist's skill, and the beautiful models he and they used. Waterhouse's  Lady of Shalot. 1888, ( I think it was Esther, his wife who modelled for it) is one of my favourite paintings. The look of despair in her face in the hopeless situation she finds herself in is truly powerful, and tears at the heartstrings. Reminiscent of Picasso's weeping women paintings ( Dora Maar), years later.
                                                                            John Waterhouse