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£300,000 - 500,000 ‡
CANADA, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Hat trick is a testament to Joe Bradley’s ever-evolving and attractively unequivocal process. With an extensive and varied art practice, Bradley is an artist known for working outside the confines of a specific aesthetic. Whilst firmly rooted in paintings, the astounding variety of styles and approaches he employs makes him one of the most interesting contemporary painters. Specifically, Bradley has become a significant artist for his city, New York, by securing veneration with his participation at the Whitney Biennale in 2008.
Executed in 2009, one year after Bradley had been celebrated at the Biennal, Hat trick marks a pivotal moment in his career. Having just abandoned his monochromatic works, the artist favoured more primitive compositions made with paint and grease pencil on raw canvas. Forming part of his Schmagoo paintings, this work is one of the most important of this series. Hat trick is a monumentally large painting, presenting a naturally dirtied appearance. There is a palpable sense of studio floor, where the canvas had lain, and been walked over by the artist’s muddy paint-stained boots, before being stretched and completed. The shape of a hat, in violet and black, reprised by one of the two arrows going in opposite directions – the remaining one in green olive – is contrasted by white lines which dominate the foreground.
‘I came across Schmagoo in a book about New York City drug culture in the 1960s, it was (is) used as a slang for Heroin. This struck me as kind of funny, that a narcotic as deep and dark as Smack could end up with such a goofy nick name. Sounds like a Jewish super hero or something. The word stuck with me, and I began to think of "Schmagoo" as short hand for some sort of Cosmic Substance…Primordial Muck. The stuff that gave birth to everything. Base Matter. The Bardo. In approaching this body of work, I have been thinking of Painting as a metaphor for the original creative act. The Word made Flesh. The transmutation of Schmagoo into Alchemical Gold’ (Joe Bradley, Canada Gallery, New York, Joe Bradley: Schmagoo Paintings, 2008, online). In each Schmagoo composition, like the present work, the viewer is immersed into a world simultaneously influenced by the urban drug culture of the 1960s and the varying artistic approaches. Hat trick brings together numerous references to twentieth century art historical movements, from Primitivism and Abstract Expressionism to Minimalism and Pop Art.
Upon examining Hat trick, the viewer becomes conscious of the impact of inevitable influences of the past, including celebrated American and European greats, such as Jean Dubuffet, Cy Twombly and Robert Crumb. Akin to Dubuffet’s aesthetic, Bradley appropriates the visual purity and uses his own raw version of primal art as an origin for his motifs and scribbles. The title of the present work also calls to mind the term used in a handful of sports to indicate three individual achievements in a given game. This seminal work brings original dynamic energy and visual power to Bradley’s oeuvre, featuring the use of primary colours and suggestions of forms, together leading the viewer’s eyes across the surface in a quest to make sense of the symbolic composition.
£300,000 - 500,000 ‡
London Auction 29 June 2017