View of Joe Bradley, “Schmagoo Paintings,” 2008. From left: On the Cross, 2008; Number 23, 2008.
A reductive instinct...is it to be fought or is it to be amplified, so to speak. Joe Bradley in his second solo show (and fresh off the Whitney Biennal) choses to strip his ethos down to the most reduced of visual gestures. A bare marking.. a crude symbol..the basic number. The strategy reminds me of a conversation I once had with an artist friend in which we came to the conclusion that the name of the art games these days is to find a visual vocabulary that is compellingly familiar , yet at the same time wholly that artist's own. You walk out of Canada Gallery thinking "Now who's done that before? The Italians for Arte Povera ? Is that a Joseph Kosuth thought? Bare bones Basquiat? " But you realize the idea has never been articulated in precisely this fashion. The way Bradley's raw canvases have been stained by incidental dirt reminds you that no matter how clean and clinical you try to make your offering, something of life, something marred, something dirty insists on touching the picture. I loved the poetry of that.