Thaddeus Radell at Bowery Gallery by David Paulson
To experience painting again on the level of metaphor after it has being driven underground by conceptual painting for so many years is truly refreshing.
Heroic, highly romantic painting, which makes no apology for itself, which references all of art history from Lascaux to Keiffer- what could be more out of favor in these times? Radell is all references. His love of Rouault, Giacometti and Francis Bacon is clear- and the old adage applies- that the only way past is thru.
With Radell’s paintings, the viewer is forced to confront the work psychologically. These are not figures on a landscape with blue sky and clouds overhead, tress and green grass. What we have instead is analogous form and emotional imaging. The dark scratched marks reference trees yet also become arms and legs, torsos and heads of men and women. The space is qualitative which to a large degree makes volume and transparency simultaneous. Things are not as they seem. Bodies become negative spaces which give sight to distant landscapes. This is not the Renaissance light which models form and it is not the appearance of a familiar world we find comfort in. These forms exist as psychic images which for the most part negate the natural world and force the viewer to acknowledge painting as symbolic, experiential and metaphorical rather than descriptive, decorative and literally narrative. This “is” what it is to paint, it is Purist painting which refuses to step outside the inherent power of the formal plastic language. A language largely forgotten so it seems. With no mental short-cuts imposed upon process. Radell’s world is total- atmospheric and whole unto itself, with its successes and failures intact. Honest to a flaw, he does what he is capable of doing. Distorting form, leaving out passages and taking risks ,trusting that his devotion and love of painting is enough.
How wonderful to experience such work amidst all of the mental drivel going on in the NY art scene at the present time.