ANGELL GALLERY is pleased to present The Spoils, an exhibition of new paintings by New York-based Bradley Wood. This exhibition marks 's Wood's first solo show at the gallery since 2016, and his participation in the prestigious MOTH Residency in Milltown, County Cavan in Ireland. The show runs from March 2 - 31, with an opening reception on Friday, March 2 at 7:00 p.m. and an artist talk at 7:15 p.m.
"I must admit that, as a teenager in Kamloops in the 1980s, I was captivated by media images of wealth," says Bradley Wood. "There is something about the cyclical nature of the capitalist boom-to-bust economic system that both fascinates and repulses me - it can provide luxuries, but it can just as easily deny them." Wood finds a parallel in how oil paint can also convey the tension between abundance and opulence, scarcity and simplicity. The people in his paintings, and the settings by which they are surrounded, can be situated in the history of socially engaged figuration, from early 20th Century German Expressionists like Ludwig Kirchner and George Grosz to American painters Florine Stettheimer and Alice Neel, whose paintings record particular social milieu at specific points in time. "I'm inspired by the paint handling of an artist like Soutine," Wood adds, speaking of the painter whose expressionist works effectively convey the satiny texture of a bellhop's uniform, as well as the smell of a side of beef.
Last year, during a residency in Ireland, Wood revisited his interest in 17th Century still life painting. "I started comparing the opulence depicted in paintings by Jan Davidszoon de Heem and Adriaen van Utrecht to modern-day opulence," he explains. "The food, flowers and domestic objects all signified abundance but, at the same time, everything is depicted at the height of ripeness." Wood's paintings also present viewers with an abundance of things, prompting the question: how much is too much?
Indeed, there is something a bit unsettling about the title given to his latest suite of paintings, as vibrant as they are. The Spoils brings to mind phrases like 'to the victor belong the spoils', which imply that although material gains are often earned, other questions still remain, such as those around deservedness, social responsibility, and the stewardship of the spoils of previous generations. Perhaps, beneath all of the richly applied oil paint lies a warning: sometimes an abundance can start to feel like a burden.
- Bill Clarke