Joe Bradley's "Like A Turkey Thru Corn" surprised me. I've seen his work before, but never anything like this. Usually his shows consist of large figures comprised of multiple monochromatic canvases, towering over their audience in the gallery. The new work, large uncoated canvases, with simple black line drawings done in a childish manner at first seems unrelated.
I gave the show some time. I always liked Bradley's other work and wanted to figure out some connections. I found them, not only in the content, but also in Bradley's sketches for the 'figures'.
His line-work and desire to communicate using minimalism and simplicity spans across both bodies of work. Also, his use of one technique in repetition as opposed to showing different bodies of work together is unique. He doesn't mix ideas. He is straightforward. He also has a sense of humor. The figures, to me, were both paying homage to, and mocking, minimalism because they obviously referenced it and its history, but the figures also resembled childish representations of people.
The series in the current show at Peres Projects, is what he calls the "Schmagoo" series, a fitting name for the imagery. Bradley is even more forward about his sense of humor in this work. He once again merges humor with minimalism. The works, aesthetically, are attractive. The line work, the tone of the canvas, the simplicity and the size of the works all gel together to make the drawings really appealing. They are objects that I want. Beyond that, the content is charming in how honest and funny it is. The drawings depict doodles that a child might do in the margins of his notebook, but without all of the extraneous scribble. One piece features a goofy smile, with block teeth, no other information. Another, the superman symbol, except with a backwards S. An E with one too many horizontal lines in it. A heart with an arrow through it. Swirls on circular canvases. All things we have scribbled at one time or another.
Bradley's merging of minimalism and his innate humor makes for an upbeat show with historical and personal relevance.
(Images from top to bottom: Smiley, 2009, Painting - Grease pencil on canvas, 68 x 106 inches (172.7 x 269.2 cm); Installation view; Luv, 2009, Painting - Grease pencil on canvas, 70 x 80 inches (177.8 x 203.2 cm); All images courtesy Peres Projects, Berlin Los Angeles, and the artist)