“Cycling Guide 96,” 2017, oil on copper

In 2018, contemporary realist Dina Brodsky had a show in London that celebrated her “twin passions” of bicycling across countrysides and cities and painting miniature landscapes on copper. The exhibition at Pontone Gallery, titled “Cycling Guide to Lilliput,” featured a collection of these miniature paintings. Each of them, the artist tells us, “is an attempt to capture a specific moment throughout my travels that I can return to vividly in my memory.”

Enjoy an inside look at the deep connections of Brodsky’s twin passions in this exclusive interview.

Fine Art Today: As you’re cycling, do you stop and take reference photos and/or make sketches?

Dina Brodsky: Yes; I take a sketchbook with me when I travel, and stop cycling every few hours to sketch. I usually come back with a book full of small drawings and travel notes, as well as a lot of reference photos, which I use to inform the miniatures I make in my studio.

How are your miniature paintings displayed or framed? Tell me about the surface, for example.

I’ve been experimenting a bit with painting on copper over the last several years, but I only discovered it properly with this series of work. I was looking at some paintings on copper at the Met a while ago, and was blown away by how the surface seemed to glow, and how clear the colors were, even 500 years after the painting was finished. I fell in love with copper as a surface, so this part of the series is all oil on copper. Because the paintings are so small, I put them in a frame with a linen mat around it, and attach the miniature to the mat with tiny magnets.

I’m sure that each of your miniature paintings tells a story; can you share one with us?

Since a lot of the landscapes are from imagery directly along the bike path, my stories are mostly connected to being on the road. The two below are from the last days of my last trip, in Prague — I was first there many years ago when I was making my way through Europe at 19, and was completely blown away by its beauty, but didn’t have a place to stay (or any money), so I spent two nights sleeping on a bench near Charles Bridge. On the third night it started raining, and I remember being completely soaked and a little scared but looking at the Prague skyline, and the moon coming out after the rain, and thinking that I have to come back here and paint this. I didn’t get a chance to come back until last year, but it is just as breathtaking as I remember (this time I slept in a proper bed). I spent a lot of my time drawing the view from the bridge where I spent the night 15 years ago.

Top painting: Dina’s old sleeping place. “I tried to capture the moon after the rain,” she said, “with the old city skyline in silhouette against it.” Bottom painting: From the top of the bridge.

I can see how cycling is a form of meditation, as painting is, of course. Do you think the two have anything else in common, or is there anything else you’d like to share about your “twin passions”?

Cycling, as well as painting, can be both a meditation and an adventure. The adventures that cycling offers are connected to the external world — unknown cities and forests, new people, the fact that you never quite know what happens next. The adventures of painting are internal ones, and sometimes seem minuscule — something unexpected that paint does when mixed a certain way, the juxtaposition of colors or shapes — but to me they are equally exciting. For me, cycling and painting are also closely intertwined — my cycling trips inform my paintings, and when I paint, my memory returns me to the places and experiences I’ve had cycling.

Brodsky’s tent and bicycle

Learn more about Dina Brodsky at http://dinabrodsky.com.

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