Divvied Up

March 20, 2009

Whenever Bradley Castellanos (MFA 2006 Fine Arts) begins a new piece, he is always conscious of the divisions inherent in the work: painting and photography; exterior and interior landscapes; reality and fantasy. So his current exhibition, “The Divide,” is aptly named, showcasing eight new works that combine large-format photographs taken by Castellanos with paint and resin, leading to intensely hued images that bridge visual and conceptual divides. The artist spoke to the Briefs about the show, on view at Caren Golden Fine Art, 539 West 23rd Street, through Saturday, April 4.

Tell me about the work in “The Divide”
The eight paintings navigate the space between photography and painting, and also occupy a space between reality and fantasy. Zug Island, the largest painting, started with a photograph I shot in Detroit. I found this industrialized area that had an apocalyptic feeling. I start with the photo, then I have it printed and I start the cutting and painting process. Another, “American Paradise,” is a birds-eye view of the Hudson River. I’ve always liked the Hudson River School painters a lot and this kind of landscape. So I shot off of the cliffs looking south along the Hudson.

The show’s artist statement suggests that this new work has refined your aesthetic. What has changed?
In the past, I was using a lot more resin, a lot more layering of resin, photos and paint. The pieces would be much thicker. I’ve cut out a lot of the resin, and now it’s still in layers, but much tighter. Sort of a weaving of photo, paint and resin. I felt that the painting and photography were too separate, and it seemed natural to cut the excessive use of resin. I discovered that I could use it in a different way, pouring it into cutout cavities or tinting the resin. It seemed more unified.

The title of the show brings up a lot of cultural connotations. Was there a particular “divide” you had in mind?
My work is always kind of between a pastoral and urban landscape. I like to have some presence of man in the image, maybe a structure. But this show feels more pastoral. My work has always been about tensions between polarities—urban vs. pastoral, realism vs. fantasy, it’s always the tension between those extremes.

Images: Bradley Castellanos, (top) American Paradise, 2009; (bottom) Zug Island, 2009. Courtesy of the artist and Caren Golden Fine Art New York.

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