Bradley R. Petersen
In my paintings, I compose disparate images of desire and repulsion in an attempt to politicize obviously nonpolitical things within still life arrangements. Pieces of pie have an element of decadence or political incorrectness and “good” food such as fruit or beautiful objects like flowers all struggle for their positions in the compositions. Meanwhile images such as snakes fall back into roles of both decoration and threat or maybe promises of pain or pleasure. At the same time humans are present or nearby as they interact in various coded ways but only by glimpses of body parts or clothing fragments. I paint all this iconography in an aesthetic atmosphere but restricted space, and color and light become performers as images take on visual pleasure. I also believe the paintings show an emotional climate that is both brooding and ominous. Conflict and opposition are the breeding ground for physical and psychological relationships in these paintings. My intention is to rework or sabotage the tradition of still life painting by bringing worlds of inanimate objects and humans together yet colliding with some sort of collage mentality behind the thinking that threatens their normality and intimacy. At the same time I want the feeling of a composite of images that creates a tableau which suggests that there is more invested meaning, like a subverted morality play, than the eye can perceive. I am more interested in a transformed reality rather than one that is an imitation of the world around us and at the same time being affected by culture, space and light.
I am currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin where I teach drawing and painting. I have had numerous solo exhibitions at Zaks Gallery Chicago, Illinois, and most recently I have shown at Parchman Stremmel Galleries, San Antonio, Texas; Roswell Museum and Art Center, Roswell, New Mexico; and Bill Davis Gallery, Austin, Texas. My work is included in the collections of the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, Roswell, New, Mexico; Continental Bank, Chicago, Illinois; Kemper Insurance Company, Chicago, Illinois; and Wilson Industries, Houston, Texas.