Ry David Bradley, a Melbourne-born artist who currently resides between London and New York, brings his concerns with the digital, screen-based world to the weighty and lasting painted form. He creates digitally rendered paintings that move between the virtual and the material through, not only their subject matter, but also their construction. In his upcoming exhibition this screenic interest is quite literally woven into his paintings. In keeping with this duality I spoke with the artist online about his approach to painting and his enduring fascination with the interplay between the digital and the material.
You have created double-sided paintings that protrude from the gallery wall, paintings on synthetic velvet and works where viewers need to wear 3D glasses. What will we see in your upcoming exhibition?
The work will be in line with my current museum solo exhibition at Heart Museum in Denmark, my first museum solo show, the works are digitally produced paintings that are then woven in the United States. They are made from red, green and blue threads, the rudimentary precursors to the way in which a modern RGB phone screen works.
What made you decide to work with velvet, suede and tapestries?
I made the decision to extend upon what has largely been a search for the right textile to express digital characteristics. The suede was changeable, the velvet allowed for deep saturation of colour in a screen-like way, and now the RGB of the construction allows me to embed digital content into a more robust artform. Digital storage is very flimsy seen from a long-term archival view. These are works I can trust.
Tell me a little about your process and how you create your paintings?
I made a set of brushes to work with that are not available in software, to customise how I paint. The image sources that I tend to work with have political and meme-like qualities and often reflect the push and pull between real and imaginary, fact and fake in the early 21st century.
Is it true that you started out making video art at university but ended up graduating as a painting major? What prompted this shift?
Yes, it is. Software feels as native to me as any other materials but back then computers were comparatively slow and rendering would take all day. In some cases it still does. So I started to paint while the render queue was going instead of wasting the day and fell in love with its immediacy and history. It took a few years to be able to reconcile one with the other.
There must be many difficulties and complexities in shifting between the digital, immaterial format, where you make and manipulate your images, and moving these images out into the physical, material world. How do you grapple with this?
There are. The thing for me is how expensive it is to fabricate digitally, especially when you are young. You need to find people who allow you to work with their machines in unorthodox ways, and they are always afraid of disruption and commercial repair expenses if something goes wrong. I wasted everything I earnt from shit jobs fabricating work that often never sold, so it feels like pouring whatever you have down a hole. For this reason most people keep digital work digital and in the not too distant future there will be better ways to display it. But every generation needs at least a few objects that will be around to tell the story later.
Kathleen Linn is a Sydney-based writer, curator and editor.
28 March to 20 April, 2019