Friday, August 7, 2009

Bay Area Townie: Bradley Platz's Art

Fifth In a Series on Bay Area Artists

Bradley's art is masterful, edgy yet serene, calling forth the Old Masters - elements from renaissance imagery - with a wonderfully disquieting bit of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion thrown in. Based on or inspired by myth, allegories and fables of old, he injects his own modern twist of our mortality and circumstance with seeming ease and grace.

Dictionary definition of "allegory" - a representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms; figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another.

One of my faves by Bradley is "Charon and the Shades"- (fourth from the top). The painting depicts Nicole Ritchie, (as a general symbol for the modern celebrity and wealth) on the boat with Charon. Charon was the ferryman on the river Styx, the mythological old man who took the souls of the dead across the river into Hades, provided that they had a gold coin to pay for passage. Historically, among the wealthier classes a gold coin was nearly always placed under the tongue of the departed for this reason. Nicole is represented dry and emaciated, having little physical beauty left but a wealth of gold which, ironically, is pouring out of her mouth in a familiar cathartic expulsion. The "shades" or souls trapped in purgatory are swarming the boat, these are souls with no money for Charon, eternally stranded on the shores of the Styx. The painting represents celebrity privilege as the continuation of the aristocratic privileges that have extended back to the time of myths and gods.

Besides the larger epic works, Bradley also has an ever-growing series of enticing little portraits. Pictured here are some early works "Creatures" done on black velvet. His "Creatures" are playful, little gargoyle-like beings which radiate golden light and simple minded expressions in floating postures. Bradley's later (and currently developing) characters are gothic portraits with a "Night Gallery" ambiance. With names like "Mistress" and "Patriarch" or "St. Nihilist", these evoke lost souls captured for eternity within a delicate small oval Victorian frame. They have a beautifully poetic, historical bent; the images are small, yet powerfully potent, full of personality, expression and emotion.

"I believe that a painter should honor what has come before and show respect where respect is deserved. My work is based upon religious icons and renaissance imagery which is set in a modern context. It is a constant personal inquiry; piece by piece it is a task of deconstructing our idols of worship and considering how they have changed through the centuries. "

Bradley currently lives, works and paints in San Francisco. He has been a regular contributor to Eclectix Gallery exhibits as well as part of a two-man show with artist Michael Ryan, aptly titled "Portraits & Allegories", in 2008.