Within the City
February 9 – 28, 2018
Famous cities carry an endless number of associations. One can almost feel the pulse of a city when thinking of it, and each has its very own. It should come as no surprise, then, that artist Brad Aldridge, featured at an upcoming “Within the City” exhibition at Bonner David Galleries, has devoted his life to painting cityscapes that are “honest and grounded in somber realism” and simultaneously “encouraging and hopeful.”
“My art is romantic, and I paint an ideal,” Aldridge says. “I think I’m drawn to paint cities such as New York City, London, Paris, Rome, Venice, and Florence (all included in ‘Within the City’) because they also represent places I grew up hearing about, and I idealized and romanticized what they might be like, teeming with art, ideas, culture, and multiculturalism. I also think I was drawn to visit these places, not only as a tourist as well as an artist visiting the greatest art museums in the world, but also as a small-town army brat, still proving to myself that I belong wherever I choose to go.”
Keep reading for an exclusive Q&A with Aldridge.
Fine Art Today: Please tell us a little about your travels and how they inspire your art.
Brad Aldridge: I have had the opportunity for the past five years to paint landscape murals in religious temples for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) in three different countries including Peru, Japan, and the U.S., so I’ve had opportunities to travel to those places. My wife and I also enjoyed becoming more acquainted with New York City as we have traveled there to visit family and attend my art shows. Also, I recently took my wife on a wonderful trip to France, England, and Italy where I took extensive photographs of major cities and countryside from which to paint.
I live in a very small town in rural Utah with a population of 1,500, in a county with only two traffic lights I can think of, so I ask myself why I might be drawn to paint such large urban cities in addition to the more idyllic pastoral landscapes I’ve painted my entire career. I also ask myself if I can paint urban scenes with authenticity and not merely treat them as tourist postcards. But I was born in Japan, raised as an “army brat,” and moved every two years around the U.S. from Alaska to Washington, D.C. and one important lesson my parents and my upbringing taught me was that the world is my home and I belong wherever I choose to belong.
What has been your favorite city to paint?
I know it’s a cliche, but I love painting Venice! Venice has a rich history of being painted by some of the greatest artists the world has known. There are so many paintings of Venice in the world that the challenge is to rise above all the poor examples, but the history, architecture, narrow streets, water, and abundance of high towers to gain different perspectives makes Venice an absolutely magical city to paint and I look forward to painting more Venetian pictures in the future.
What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced when painting a subject so vast?
The way I made the transition from landscape painting to include cityscapes was to realize that cityscapes are landscapes, complete with light and shadow, distance and atmospheric perspective, weather and varying times of day. For years I have been interested in painting landscapes from a higher perspective to see the vast depth and complex intricacies of fields, farms, streams, and small villages as they lead to a seemingly endless distance, and so I have been enjoying painting cities from a higher perspective as well.
I think I like the idea that though one can look over a city from a high vantage point, such as the observation deck at the Tate Modern Museum in London or the top of Rockefeller Center in New York City, and look down on so many individual and countless streets, cars, apartments, office buildings, and people with their unique sorrows, struggles, joys, and victories in a shadowed foreground, yet in the distance observe an overarching glowing and hopeful horizon. To paint that honest hope using a vehicle of seemingly infinite jigsaw-like complexity, and to strive again and again for the proper balance between realism and poetry, is the great challenge.
A Word About “Within the City” From Bonner David Galleries
Three artists, three friends, all who love the city. Join us for the sights and sounds and experience urban life as these three award-winning artists each showcase what the city means to them. From the distinct architecture rendered by Brad Aldridge after extensive travel abroad and domestically, to the denizens of urban life so poignantly depicted by the brilliant brushstrokes of Joseph Lorusso, and the rich palette of the city windows and glimpses portrayed from Francis Livingston, this show promises to be unforgettable for anyone who’s ever yearned for city life.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. Click here to start receiving Fine Art Today for free.