Grew up in Columbus, OH where he attended the Columbus College of Art and Design
I visited Bradley Chriss at his home studio up in Northern Bethesda the other day, and as it turns out, my timing couldn’t have been better. He had forty pieces on paper he presented to me that evening that he’s made over the course of a year for a solo show he’s having at The Gallery at Flashpoint in downtown DC opening this September 11.
What strikes me most about Bradley’s work is his fear and imagination of a dark other world and how he manages to create each depiction of this world to be jewel like and something to be coveted. It didn’t help that all 40 paintings were stacked neatly inside a handmade box set in the middle of his studio table covered with a blue flannel cloth. You don’t notice anything violent immediately. Abstract forms slowly become specific. A blue wash evolves into the monster character that is repeated in each painting and is represented by a single eye. This eye can be hovering above an ambiguous horizon line or right there embedded in the flesh of cavorting male and female body parts that are erotic and grotesque at the same time. Appropriately his show at Flashpoint is titled “Visions From the End of the World”.
Many stories came up about his childhood including one when he was 3 years old and was allowed to watch Children of the Corn at an aunt’s house. Hmmmm. At age 5, he came upon a Penthouse magazine of two males dressed up as aliens trying to abduct a passive female victim. See the video clip below right to listen to Bradley’s first hand account. Another time at age 4, Bradley remembers a pet hamster that ate half of one of its offspring leaving the other gory half in the cage to rot. He still remembers the horror of seeing the half eaten carcass and the mother hamster (or father) sitting happily full dozing at the other end of the cage.
All these past experiences consciously and sub-consciously inspire his ideas of the apocalypse. Ultimately his work is ironic in his use of bold and sumptuous color coupled with delicate line towards expressing these intimately sized ‘voidscapes’. “It’s the comical and the tragedy co-existing”. And a quote from his website statement: “Humanity has attempted and is attempting to come to terms with its inevitable extinction. From seas boiling and rivers filled with blood, to a wolf swallowing earth, as lotus blossoms containing everything open and close in instants that last billions of years. By using an intimate scale and saturated color to seduce viewers I want to bring them into the ultimate conflict of power and control that humanity has with their own environment. I am not aiming for allegory, just the void.”
It is also of note that Bradley is a founding member of the DC cell of the Post-Neo Absurdists. They are a U.S. and U.K. based artist ‘anti-collective’ that come together in theatre, music, performance and visual art. http://postneoabsurdism.blogspot.com
A recent installation project was a private commission for Pink Line Project’s Philippa Hughes. His opening on September 11 is going to be a presentation of a total of 50 paintings on paper in conjunction with live cabaret performances, readings and delectable food items. Be sure to be there. For more details on Bradley Chriss and his work, check his website at: www.bradleychriss.com and http://www.flashpointdc.org