When it opened a few years back, Chinatown Soup gallery in NYC’s Lower East Side tapped Portland-based designer Thomas C Bradley to create their logo. It only makes sense that Bradley’s first solo NYC show is at that very same gallery now—after quitting his full-time design job to pursue art. Opening tonight, “Many Paintings of Sound Composition and Inoffensive Material” is actually more than just paintings; Bradley has also hand-engraved lighters—no two the same—for the show. The paintings are, of course, the main attraction—and the colorful works feature everything from dogs to Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain.”
Bradley says leaving behind full-time work was frightening, but worth it. Regarding this debut in New York, he says he’s “Honored. Humbled. Astonished. Hungover. Estranged. It’s weird. It’s been a decade since I went to art school and felt like I was a part of some sort of scene. I feel like an outsider. But kind of an inside one. When Chinatown Soup reached out to me a few months ago, it was the first time I had ever considered something like this being a possibility. But then I was like, ‘Wait… I can do that.'”
His design days aren’t too far behind him, and that pragmatic part of his mind is still applied to his art. Because of that design-leaning mind, he grids out his canvasses “into thirds, sixths, and sometimes ninths, and occasionally [I] add in a logarithmic spiral like the golden ratio in there. Then I build the painting on top of that underlying structure.” His painting style certainly reflects this mind-set, but avoids becoming too ridged or stark—rather they are warm, playful, yet somewhat earnestly neat.
Rather than creating artwork for sale, and for this show, Bradley says he really paints for himself—perhaps his sanity. “With all the ugliness happening in the world I’ve been using painting as an escape. A time to quiet my brain and just focus on making something I find visually stimulating. And the response I’ve received has been encouraging so I’ve kept going,” he says. Essentially, though, he just wants to make work that he’s happy with. He tells us, “I try to make something I’m proud of and want to show off every chance I get.”
“Many Paintings of Sound Composition and Inoffensive Material” opens tonight at 7PM, at Chinatown Soup, 16B Orchard Street, New York and will run through Friday, 23 June.
Gallery images by Cool Hunting, all others courtesy of Thomas C Bradley