Angell Gallery, Toronto
Working from the position of the outsider, Bradley Wood plays out fictitious fantasies on canvas in a voyeuristic view of lives lived inside the walls of his eccentric cast of characters. Luscious oils combine with ironic narratives to create a world that both attracts and repulses. Intriguing individuals lounge languidly amidst highly decorative surroundings, all rendered with a painterliness that hovers between form and disintegration, and works to intrigue and unsettle as much as it does to delight. While Wood peppers his paintings with dashes of early modernist references ― the richly patterned interiors of Matisse, the colours of the Fauves, the distortions of Ludwig Kirchner and the swirling brushwork of Chaim Soutine ― his cast of characters are soundly rooted in contemporary life.
Likening his process to that of a film director, Wood casts a wide net when seeking inspiration for his subjects and their mise en scènes. Settings are inspired by a similarly diverse array of sources, ranging from Italian and French vintage porn films to interior design to real life. “I heard recently that Fellini would start a film by putting up images of people and things on the wall by his office desk,” says Wood. “This is very much how I begin my own work and draw inspiration for the stories I want to tell.”
Such references are blended then strained through Wood’s unique vision, emerging delightfully askew. Carpets slide down the picture plane, recalling the raking perspectives of German Expressionism. Legs that seem to go on forever underscore the overall sense of an image on the verge of a meltdown. Deeply engaged with oil paint’s viscosity and using a loose brushstroke, Wood’s paintings have a deeply distinctive touch.