Brad, tell us a bit about yourself and your story as a practising artist?
I've been represented by Arcadia Contemporary since 2009 and live and work between NYC and upstate New York. I think the journey from college to my life now is the interesting part. I didn't paint for 8 years after college. I had a degree in Fine Art and I was a skilled painter, but I didn't have anything unique to say or express....so I decided that I need life experience. No grad school. I became a house painter, played in an indie-rock band, eventually painted dog portraits, and when the economy crashed in 2008, I found myself out of clients. So, my friend invited me to live at his place and focus on painting a body of work that I had finally envisioned as "unique". So i lived at his place, painted around the clock for 8 months, made mistakes, taught myself to gild, and took my work to Arcadia. Steve Diamant, the owner, took a chance on a 30-year old no-name artist and the rest seemed to serendipitously fall into place.
‘Pareidolia’ - Oil and silver leaf on linen. 2016
Your painting are really quite unique, alongside the incredible painting you use precious metals!! How did this method of working first come about for you and what do you hope it contributes to your practise
I was searching for a surreal element to have in my work, and while i was a house painter, I was asked to copper leaf entire walls for a client. I had never used metal leaf on a scale like that before, and so I really had to teach myself how to do it. I had also just returned from a trip to Paris, and was completely inspired by the Louvre. Not the paintings, but the ceilings. I realized that I spent most of my time there staring in awe at the gilded ceilings and the ornamental sculpture coming out from the corners. After standing in front of the copper leafed walls that I had done, I saw the way light played on it and I was convinced I needed precious metals in my work. It ads a surreal sense of space and time to my work. Time and light in the painted areas are frozen and dictated by me....time and light in the gilded areas are a reflection of the space that the viewer is standing in...so it's a strange experience for the viewer to see their reality mixing with the painted reality.
‘Algorithms’ - Oil and silver leaf on linen. 2016
Your colour palette is really refined and mesmerising, would you say this has come out of your work with the metal or was this already pre-established?
It is a bit of both. I was always attracted to the grisailles and the underpaintings of the masters more than their finished full-color works, so I was experimenting with it in college. It came so easy to me to use this palette that i thought their had to be more of a challenge for me if I was going to create "serious" paintings....so I began to use full-color in some paintings....but I believe that editing out what you don't connect to as an artist is key to finding a true "voice". So, I got rid of the idea that i needed to use more than 4 colors. It was a perfect union when I started using gold and silver...almost like an epiphany when I married my minimal palette to the metals. The metal leaf started to dictate how far I could push the color in my work...and I would say that at this point gold and silver are the anchors that the rest of my palette revolve around.
'How To Become Invisible’ - Oil and silver leaf on linen. 2016
A lot of your works use the female form, for you what is it that your drawn to and what are you exploring with their use in your work?
I was raised as a Lutheran, and as I got older I realized that the Abrahamic religions have largely demonized women and the feminine. I want to help re-define those archetypes. My work is also exploring the journey of following one's own intuition, and the feminine is a stronger symbol than the masculine for this....women are mythically connected to the cosmos and the moon, we have historically praised them as seers, yet looked down upon them for this same power...i.e. the negative perception of witchcraft.
'Present, Future, Past’ - Oil and silver leaf on linen. 2016
What would you say are the main driving forces behind your practise, what is Brad Kunkle questioning when he’s painting?
The journey of the self....what is your purpose here?...where is YOUR path and how do you listen to yourself and shed all of the veils to the truth that have been imposed upon you by society? Nature has a way of showing us when we are willing to listen. It is IN our nature to desire these answers and to reach our full potential as individuals. How can we follow our own truth along this journey?
‘Guardenian' - Oil and sliver leaf on linen. 2016
Tell us a bit about any upcoming plans for 2017, where should we be headed to to check out some of your works?
2017 is a year of private commissions for me actually....but I will be showing some new works with Arcadia at some art fairs this year as well. I have a very exciting project that just wrapped up this week....you'll actually be able to go to Netflix this May to see it. I'll be able to reveal more details on my instagram and website in the coming months. Stay tuned!
'The Moon Room’ - Oil and silver on linen. 2016
CHECK OUT www.bradkunkle.com TO SEE MORE OF BRADS’ WORK
INTERVIEW by HANNAH SMITH