Santa Fe, NM
Giacobbe-Fritz Fine Art, June 12-28
This story was featured in the June 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art June 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Bradford J. Salamon joined Giacobbe-Fritz Fine Art’s stable of artists less than a year ago, and in that short time, his work has caused something of a stir on Canyon Road. Salamon’s “object portraits” elevate everyday, vintage items to iconic status, visually weaving a story that, as the artist explains, “reveals their humanity.” His decidedly tactile canvases, awash with layers of lush pigment, invite viewers to stop and gaze, inspiring both internal and external dialogue. “Bradford’s work brings new people into the gallery,” says director Palin Wiltshire. “The work is starting discussions and evoking memories. People have stories to share based on it.”
Salamon’s debut exhibition at the gallery opens on Friday, June 12, with a reception for the artist from 5 to 7 p.m. The show includes nearly two dozen oil paintings in a range of sizes featuring now-classic items that, in their heyday, defined the aesthetics of American culture. These meticulously crafted designs revered form as much as function, serving not only as commodities but also as conversation pieces. As these radios, cameras, phones, food containers, and other products have evolved for 21st-century purposes, that attention to detail and craft has often faded. By immortalizing their energy in two dimensions, Salamon seeks to recapture the cultural and aesthetic impact of these would-be relics. The familiar subjects engage viewers visually as well as sentimentally, recalling sights, sounds, and smells of the past.
A long-renowned portraitist, Salamon began painting inanimate objects about five years ago while embarking on another series informed by 1940s and 1950s aesthetics. When he found those compositions challenging to resolve, he turned to a toy his daughter had left in his studio. Salamon found that by isolating the individual piece, he could capture the narrative he had been trying to achieve with more complex scenes. Likewise, as he monumentalized each article, he could more effectively reveal its surface appeal while also extracting the emotion embedded inside. “Simple objects bring people into the painting the way portraits do,” Salamon says. Likewise, they carry with them a rich provenance. “They become partial portraits of their owners.”
Salamon’s images possess an exhilarating physicality. Sumptuous layers, built up and scraped down, suggest the passage of time, highlighting each item’s cultural patina. Overt brushwork evidences the artist’s hand, lending a sense of movement and energy to the object-figures, while also reveling in the medium. “They are immersed within the background,” he says of his subjects, which protrude and recede as they fuse with the surrounding space.
“I want to paint the way we see,” Salamon remarks, “not as photorealism, but how we see in our periphery—the manner in which we view objects as we move through our space.” For him, such expression does not focus on precision but on softness and movement—the spontaneous, intuitive responses we have while observing. “It’s a matter of creating focal points and painting in a visceral way that connects with emotions,” he concludes.
Salamon’s show continues through June 28, but Wiltshire expects the buzz around his work to continue. “We’re excited about our future with Bradford,” she says. —Elizabeth L. Delaney
Featured in the June 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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