Bradley Chriss

Bethesda, MD | by August 12, 2009


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


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