From a Dark Spring
Thu, 14 Apr 2011 — Sat, 21 May 2011
The Weiss Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of select paintings by BRAD WOODFIN
"From A Dark Spring"
These paintings compose a mini-retrospective of the artist's work over the last four years and illustrate a progression of theme, subjectivity/objectivity of his genre, humour within Woodfin's creative practice
Brad Woodfin is from historic Marblehead Massachusetts, a maritime town in New England. Woodfin studied printmaking and painting at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Brad currently lives and works in Montreal.
The following informal dialogue between gallery director Christine Klassen and Brad Woodfin took place in early April.
Q. Do you have a a specific show title in mind for this mini-retrospective of your work?
A. I was thinking of calling it "From A Dark Spring". It seemed to make sense when thinking about my work. I also just like the sound of it.
Q. Why do you paint animals? Has your work always referenced animals? How did this series evolve over the years?
A. When I first started painting animals I was painting animals that one would find on a farm, or used for other purposes that would benefit man. It seemed because they were a commodity I could use them as more minimalist subjects. That they would not carry as much weight as other animals because they were so common. As time went on I moved on to giving them more power and with The Holy Goats I wanted to make them more supernatural. To have them exist without a reference to their science or their relation to man but to have them have their own history.
Q. I read in an interview that you gave in 2008 that the "chiaroscuro" style came from a scene from the Last Temptation of Christ, the ideas of Mark Rothko and Richie Hawtin as Plastikman. These are some very intriguing references - I imagine your painting also reference historical fauna genre painting but am curious since the above references are all quite contemporary (and perhaps a little postmodern?). Sorry - I don't want to get too far in the realm of "art speak" here but am curious to know more about your use of shadow vs. light.
A. I have always liked dark work, either paintings or music. I think Richie Hawtin and Mark Rothko have a lot in common. To Rothko everything in the universe was either expanding or shrinking. I think Richie Hawtin's Plastikman records are a perfect soundtrack to that. Very 3 dimensional. I like 3 dimensionality in work, be it Caravaggio, the Surrealists, Rothko or Plastikman. I would like to think that my work fits in their somehow. Maybe with my work being about the absence or presence of light in life and how darkness and lightness are moving back and forth, expanding and shrinking.
Q. I love that the animals in your paintings each have their own "personality" captured in your rendering. Some of the animals look coy, some anxious, some contemplative. Do you set out to do this intentionally or does it happen organically as the painting develops?
A. I often decide on the expressions before I start. Some of the paintings change as I work on them. A lot of it is the expression the animal is giving in the photo. I just try to recreate it.
Q. How do you select the animals? And with the Holy Goat series, of which we have a few pieces - tell me why goats?
A. I am collecting images all the time of animals I might want to use. Before starting a new piece I will go through the collection and pick one that seems to speak to me that day. I think that pictures I collect around the same periods often have the same moods, reflecting mine perhaps and I hope that this gives each show a bit of continuity. As for the goats I had collected a bunch of pictures of goats from Sicily; Girgentana goats. I really love the quality of the photos I had. Some of them were quite old and had a sort of golden light to them. I have always like devotional paintings. I wanted to find a subject that seemed pre-christian or pagan or even anti-christian or anti-religion. I feel that I had taken a lot of tones and images from Christian paintings. I wanted to move beyond that, by trying to go before it. That is also where the idea of painting on books, or doing paintings on thick panels of wood like the Lion. I wanted to paintings to look like books. Books with a new history for the subjects on the cover.
Q. Also, tell me about the two lively goat paintings that feature cloudy sky backdrops ("A Shiny Shiny Morning" & "The Holy Goats"). I believe you mentioned that the one was and idea for a book cover but I am curious about the dramatic change, the lightness/brightness. They certainly have a whole different mood to them. Are there other reasons for the departure from the darkness/shadow?
A. "The Holy Goats" painting was done to sort of be the advertisement for the show. It was made to be hung in the window of the gallery like a poster. I wanted the "A Shiny, Shiny Morning" painting to be the centerpiece for the 8 book paintings in the show, so I wanted it to be a different than the others. The title is taken from a song by The Knife.