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INTERIORS

The Gandini Chapel, Padua
7th - 30th June 2014

Catalogue Introduction by Luigi Attardi
Some of the reasons for exhibiting this series of paintings by Justin Bradshaw in order to inaugurate the Gandini Chapel as a place in which, not only religious, but also secular activities take place will, no doubt, appear obvious. The contrast between the conceptual nature of the transformation of the Chapel’s interior by Jack Sal and the exquisitely “participatory” approach that is manifest in Bradshaw’s concept of artistic skill could not be more evident. To further emphasize it, Bradshaw has painted for the occasion a series of twelve paintings that portray the interiors of important buildings in the Veneto – for the most part churches – that are either famous or partake of a specific relation to the Gandini Chapel itself. Hence the title of the exhibition, “Interiors in an Interior,” and the double vision that it affords, the deep correspondence of contents – the interior of the Chapel according to Sal and the interiors of also other places of worship in proximity of the Chapel according to Bradshaw – enabling the heterogeneous elements that distinguish the formal aspects of the two artists’ work to fully emerge.
In the conceptual artistic endeavor that Jack Sal embarked upon at the Gandini Chapel, the idea that lay behind the work – that presided over its plan, as it were – took precedence over the esthetic and material concerns that its execution then entailed. And, in a way that is in line with such an approach, all the planned elements of his work could have been implemented by anyone provided with a precise enough protocol of instructions about what to do and how. As such, all those elements have turned into projections of possible actions on the part of the viewer, who becomes in a certain sense co-responsible for the work and for the effects that it, in turn, has upon her/him.
In the partly naturalistic, partly impressionistic series of miniature oil paintings on copper or zinc plates by Justin Bradshaw – a meticulous attention to detail and consistency has always been his leitmotiv – it is the artist’s manual and technical mastery and his ability to mimic the various interiors with “almost photographic” similitude that largely prevail. Here, the viewer is led to marvel at the exceptional ability the artist displayed in their execution, and to feel gratified because she/he could never have been coordinated enough to do likewise. A sense of lightness and abandon accompanies the pleasure they give when one looks at them, a feeling that is easy to share with other viewers and leaves in the penumbra the possible meaning and function of the buildings they depict.
Naturally, anyone acquainted with the vast spectrum of subjects that characterize Bradshaw’s magisterial watercolors and oil paintings – his multiple “snapshots” in which disparate elements of classical, Medieval, Renaissance and contemporary Rome often combine in paradoxical ways, his unsettling portraits, the refined series of miniatures in which, through the touching metaphor of the female figure, the themes of desire, torment, and affliction are confronted, his investigations around different and at times contrasting mythological contexts – knows that he is an artist constantly on the lookout for further clarity, dedicated to the arduous challenge of making sense of the world that surrounds us and of the role we are to play in it, yet faithful to the imperative of aspiring to the sublime.

Catalogue Text by Edoardo Trisciuzzi
With the studies by Henri Focillon as point of departure, Maurizio Calvesi examined the Eighteenth-Century landscapes of Giovanni Battista Piranesi and underlined their valence as manifestations of historical consciousness, with particular reference to the engraver from the Veneto's construction of space as a “representation of time,” i.e. as a locus of memory and of the imagination, and, therefore, as belonging to the sphere of history.
In the cycle of architectural interiors that Justin Bradshaw has painted for the Gandini Chapel, the English artist seems to refer to the great Piranesian model, not only by way of the invariable element that their subject matter represents – he has, in the past, focused upon Roman cityscapes as well – but especially because of the mnemonic reaction, which issues almost from the anamnesis – the recollection of an experience that has been a part of us since the start – that the paintings evoke. Enveloped by an enigmatic halo, dissolved almost, the environments that Bradshaw has reproduced present themselves as the remembrances of markings left by first-hand experience; without any dispersion of their original grandiosity, his naves on the contrary unleash the same “emotional effect of something impending,” capable of striking an observer's most recondite unconscious, that Franco Purini evinced in Piranesi's work. But the strings of the subconscious are not plucked in terms of a psychoanalytic investigation; the artist is instead interested in opening a window onto an interior dimension at once dreamy and imposing, uneasy and absorbed, that sets itself along the red line that reaches all the way back to the Gothic ruins depicted by Caspar David Friedrich.
The connection with Romantic spirituality is the result of the Gesamtkunstwerk (Total work of art) character expressed by Bradshaw's paintings – which, on the whole, may be considered as a single installation. The link with the preexisting context implies the double register with which the cycle presents itself; if, on the one hand, the works fall into immediate osmosis with Jack Sal's minimalist decorations and the late-Baroque traits of the Chapel itself – which is reproduced, moreover, in one of the paintings, according to a subtly conceptual interplay – on the other hand they express, through their almost hyper-realistic rendering, a strong representational autonomy. Bradshaw's Interiors are not mere recordings, instead they establish that difference between personal projection and objective knowledge of reality which has also been dear to the German artist Gerhard Richter, and which their blurring and fading effects refer to, “a metaphor of the conditioning of perception itself.” In this sense, by adopting the Richterian principle according to which “what one does is nothing other than reproduction of oneself and therefore reality in itself,” the English artist separates the object from the objective and causes the viewer to partake even further of an interaction and an experience that does not come to a halt with the present moment.


download the catalogue (in Italian)
In memory of Luigi Attardi (1952 - 2014), a dear and affectionate friend who put so much energy into holding this exhibition in a place that was very special to him. He is remembered as a valued friend and as a talented, profound and agile poet by many.