Ry David Bradley → Post Truth Ii

February 1st - March 4th, 2017

Galerie Derouillon, Haut Marais

Galerie Derouillon is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of Ry David Bradley in Paris.

Crédit photos : Gregory Copitet

Our environment is made up of compressions, algorithms, illusions and connection speed. A landscape in .dpi and .zip—eternal back and forth between high and low definition—key words, networks; stacks of pictures stored in smart phones’ memories, photos published on social networks, the continual recordings of CCTVs. What becomes of images when we sleep, when the devices are asleep or on for no particular purpose? The life of these ghost images goes on; they become code lines skeletons, the machines’ language. When downloading images—this moment of unearthing them from their invisible world—, there is often a blur; the pixels’ blur looking for their definitive form. The image is myopic like an old sfumato. The instability of the digital blur, its aesthetics, the imaginary and the more or less dark perspectives it triggers, all haunt Ry David Bradley’s work, an artist who explores the painting’s margins and its reinvention in the digital age. We could call RDB a “parapainter”, in reference to Robert Heinecken, auto-proclaimed “paraphotographer”, whose work questioned images from the 20th century.

“Digital technology is more than an invention, tool, or genre. It is a whole new landscape, a new biology, one that is changing us as much as we are changing it — and could one day live on the moon or inside us. Either way, we are digital's bitches ”1, art critic Jerry Saltz said about “Surround Audience”, the New Museum’s 2015 Triennial. He added, “Even William Gibson, the man who invented the term, recently wrote, ‘Cyberspace, not so long ago, was a specific elsewhere ... Now cyberspace has inverted. Turned itself inside out. Colonized the physical.” Born at the end of the 1970s, Ry David Bradley belongs to the sample and remix generation, going through an art history compressed, digested and multiplied by the Internet; a generation living and creating in a 4G era, for whom reality is by nature augmented, and who considers the expression 2.0 almost prehistorical. This generation, represented by RDB’s friends, is gathered on his blog www.paintedetc.com (2), a clever compilation in live feed of the works of numerous other “semionauts” (3) —a term used by Nicolas Bourriaud to define these artists who have become search engines—navigating “in an ocean of signals.”

From the prehistorical caves’ darkness to the abysmal depths of the Dark Net, art never ceases to reinvent itself within the underground margins of these territories, using different tools according to the period, from aerography and virtual reality to spray painting. RDB reinvents his own language by using tools from his own time (3D software, Photoshop, virtual reality headsets, etc.), while ceaselessly questioning the (dis)continuities of art history. His work questions the geographical frontier of these territories and that of the passage into illegality (Access All Areas, 2015). He targets the sometimes blurred frontier between abstraction and figuration, going from the representation of landscapes from pre-existing images which he re-works, to blurs entirely created through a combination of algorithms, like details from a skin that has been scanned and zoomed in. The digital is horizontal, therefore RDB questions the sacred and untouchable status of art by allowing the visitors to modify his works with a stretch brush which leaves an ephemeral mark on the velvet support used by the artist, a precious textile which allows to re-create, thanks to a DIY printing process, the screen’s saturation and luminosity, while leaving traces of fingerprints just like on touch screens (Unvalley Valley, 2016). RDB also questions the echoes and confrontations between painting and photography, photography and virtual reality, image and coding, 2D and 3D, past and present. His work then turns to impressionism and its reinvention in the 21st century. He seems to be asking whether today’s screens and virtual reality were not yesterday’s paintings which already offered a way to augment reality. Was Georges Seurat’s pointillism anticipating our current pixels?

“With the show Post Truth II, I guess it is in reference to social reality, we are becoming aware of the construction of fact, which can be twisted, and perhaps returning to a Neo Feudal situation where the corporations are the rulers. I want to show the world the way a machine sees it in a motion detection scan, and the way that relates to early painting and impressions”, the artist explains. His first solo show at Gallery Derouillon stages a hand-to-hand combat, that of the intimate (the fake skin details) and the defensive (the armor, like a firewall or a sign of power), a strange confrontation between the visitors and a feudal and futuristic army, an outlook on the future against a cinematic backdrop. The artist disregards the in-betweens, locating his work between a (virtual or not) reality and the industry of the spectacle. Both the impression left from the feelings they trigger and the prints (also “impression” in French) of the images overcome facts and knowledge, a voluntary echo to the “post-truth” concept which strives to analyze the contemporary rhetorical manipulations of politicians.

“We demand the right to opacity for all”, Edouard Glissant wrote, when reflecting on the ideal of transparency extolled by Western societies (in order to better understand), in contrast with obscurity (which aims to exclude). “Opacities can coexist and converge, weaving fabrics. To understand these truly, one must focus on the texture of the weave and not on the nature of its components. (…) The opaque is not the obscure, though it is possible for it to be so and be accepted as such. It is that which cannot be reduced.” This irreducible opacity in Ry David Bradley’s work enlightens, since its emergence, the paths of art.

Hugo Vitrani

1. “Digital’s Bitches’: The New Museum Triennial”, New York Magazine, March 9, 2015.
2. PAINTED, ETC est un blog créé par Ry David Bradley en 2009 qui a pour but de documenter ce que subit la peinture depuis sa collision avec la culture du web 2.0, et qui jouit d’un public mondial de plus de 150 000 abonnés. Il archive de manière périodique ces changements au fil du temps.
3. Nicolas Bourriaud, Postproduction, La culture comme scénario, comment l'art reprogramme le monde contemporain, Lukas & Sternberg, 2002.
4. «Post-truth» a été choisi comme mot de l’année par le dictionnaire britannique oxford. Il fait référence « à des circonstances dans lesquelles les faits objectifs ont moins d’influence pour modeler l’opinion publique que les appels à l’émotion et aux opinions personnelles ». https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/word-of-the-year/word-of-the-year-2016, accessible le 18/01/2017.
5. Edouard Glissant, Poétique de la Relation, Paris, ed. Gallimard, 1990.