How Brett Goodroad’s Paintings Became a Surprise Hit in the Art World –

Artist Brett Goodroad can still remember the strange feeling he had when he finished 2021. solo show at Cushion Works in San Francisco. “There’s this strange thing, and I’m sure other painters will talk about it: You go to the opening of all this work you’ve done and you have a moment of incredible alienation,” he said in an interview. . – You don’t understand work for a while. The mood was made more atypical by an unexpected visitor: a new york critic Hilton Als. “Suddenly Hilton bursts out the front door. He just praised me and gave me all these wonderful compliments and then hopped in an Uber and drove off.

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How Brett Goodroad's paintings became an unexpected hit in the art world

Als, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author turned art curator with a buzzing exhibition about Joan Didion’s life now on view at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, made the accolade public. a new york performance preview. He revealed that he had made contact with Cushion Works founder Jordan Stein, whom Als had previously befriended in New York, and that Stein had convinced him to see the exhibit.

It was there that Als first encountered Goodroad’s paintings, which the artist creates en plein air. The paintings in last year’s exhibition were characterized by diffuse, muddy hues that suggest San Francisco’s characteristic fog, and they often bordered on abstraction. Als praised them as “delicious, like something you want to taste yourself, partly for a living and partly to make you a better person”. Looking back on Als’ visit, Stein said ARTnews that it “changed Brett’s life.”

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Als returned to Goodroad once again for a show by Greene Naftali, a first-time artist in New York. Curated by the critic himself, it features 15 works created by Goodroad, 43, in the year and a half since leaving San Francisco.

Goodroad moved to a small town in Arizona with his partner, Tiffani; they bought a house and Goodroad was going to enroll in a nursing program that was cheaper than in San Francisco. He was unable to work full-time as an artist, but Als and others interested in his work recently took up painting. These latest works intersperse bright blue skies with the pale greens and yellows of the Arizona desert brush. Most canvases often have a bright primary palette.

Goodroad applies her oils gesturally to create corduroy-like corduroys, with seams of paint that form larger areas of color. Some of these areas are almost opaque, while others reveal shades of the underlying coloring, such as the blue that reveals the saffron beneath. Depot (2021-22). While each painting may look like a portrait or a landscape, the blending of figures and horizon lines brings the two genres together.

“The thing about his paintings is that they live in his head,” Als said. “They’re definitely not finished. He must stop working with them. This is what makes them so vibrant. You talk to them while you look at them.

In fact, Goodroad returned to one of his earlier works on the Greene Naftali show: Untitled (2013/22), which features a bulbous cloud of purulent hue with a red outline. The painting was first completed during a year-long residency at the Headlands Arts Center in Marin County, California. It was here that he first met Stein, who recalled being struck by the artist’s “washed-out Rococo-type paintings—crushed little 18th-century French court paintings—that completely blew my mind.

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By then, Goodroad had been in the Bay Area for a while. in 2007 after completing his master’s degree at the Art Institute of San Francisco, he stayed in the city and worked as a truck driver, delivering organic products and painting between tours. The physical labor of this job eventually took its toll on his body and influenced his artistic process. He often left the canvas for four or five days to deliver. Although this slowed his progress, he said he was pleased with the results: each layer was completely dry before Goodroad returned to the painting, allowing the colors to “breathe” and achieve full luminescence, as he put it.

Stein made his first appearance at Goodroad in 2017 and another in 2021. Cushion Works. The latter show was meant to mark Goodroad’s farewell to the Bay Area before moving to Arizona. But after Als a new york preview, showed interest at all, and curator Klaus Biesenbach even bought the piece for the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. The show was sold out. According to Stein, so does the Greene Naftali show.

“Goodroad wouldn’t know the market if they hit it on the head, and I hope they don’t,” Als wrote. a new york overview. When asked about this direction, Als said it was a “warning” to artists entering a culture that “supports them to do things for the market, not for themselves.”

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Also’s coverage is partly what drove the market for the paintings, and perhaps he warned because he knew the power of his endorsement. Als said though ARTnews that he did not think Goodroad was in any danger of bowing to such forces. “If somebody wanted me to be more productive, I’d probably turn it down,” Goodroad said when asked about market pressure. He attributes that sensibility to working in the Bay Area, where artists don’t have the same visibility as New York or Los Angeles.

While the market may have caught on to Goadroad’s strange, mystical paintings, his continued curiosity to create art seems to quell Al’s fears. Goodroad said he wasn’t interested in wheeling and dealing and turned the conversation to a discussion of one of his favorite works on paper, Jean-Antoine Watteau. The woman is seen from behind (c. 1715/16), which shows the seams and folds of the figure’s heavy Baroque clothing.

“I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t come across his stupid squiggly hands,” Goodroad said of Watteau. “This drawing of a woman in this long dress, sitting. He managed to describe this dress only in parallel lines. Somehow he did it. Do you know it’s magic?


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