RC Talks to Street Artist Bradley Theodore About His Latest Exhibition
We caught up with the New York based street artist Bradley Theodore, known for his use of vibrant colours & signature skeletal figures ahead of his first ever exhibition in the UK.
In our latest Bradley Theodore interview we discuss the New York art scene as well as his Son of Soil exhibition which runs from the 28th April -28th May 2016 at London’s Maddox Gallery in Mayfair. He has recently been featured in New York’s very own Wall Street Journal as well as NBC news. NYC based agency KBS have also made a film about his life and work which will showcase at the Tribeca Film Festival this year.
Give us some info surrounding the Son of Soil exhibition and what can we expect?
The exhibition showcases my journey as an artist so far from my work to some personal pieces of art that have been sitting in my room that haven’t been seen by the public yet. The exhibition will feature canvases of ‘The Ball of Marie Antoinette’ and my own takes on ‘The Mona Lisa’ & ‘The Last Super’.
How does it feel to be doing your first solo exhibition in the UK?
Its a really good feeling to be doing my very own first ever solo exhibition and in the UK. As an artist I have really had to do everything myself with advice from mentors, friends & ‘drinking buddies’ along the way which can be considered unorthodox as artists nowadays are usually recommended by another artist already established on the scene. The majority of ‘street art’ across New York is destroyed within hours after going up but my work seems to have gained respect amongst artists of the City for its colour and vibrancy which is nice to see.
How did you get into the ‘Graffiti’ scene were you always into art from a young age and took to the streets to express yourself?
I was friends with ‘writers’ when I moved to the City but was never really personally into the graffiti scene. The scene was quite brutal and violent at the time and people were getting into fights for writing over each others work. I was more interested in expressing myself than getting involved with violence and just hanging with people.
What’s the Street Art ‘scene’ like currently in New York with notable people like yourself getting so much recent publicity?
Well you have the New York Contemporary Art Scene and then the graffiti scene. The ‘Street Art’ scene got so commercial after Banksy came on the scene that everyone wanted to be a Banksy ‘Clone’. After the Exit Through The Giftshop in 2010 it was all about money and the art didn’t matter as much. After I did my first wall piece colour then started to explode again across the City which was a good thing you know.
Where did the whole skeleton thing come from and what does it signify?
It just kind of came about when I was doing my piece ‘Anna & Karl’ so you could say it kind of came about but at the same time it tied into my own philosophy of people and how I view them. Everyone has a skeleton and I don’t like to judge people before I know them just because of a certain way they dress or clothes they wear. A skeleton represents a true person and who they are internally.
How did you get involved with the fashion side of things and can we expect further collaborations for 2016?
I have always been into fashion from a young age wearing old school Reebok Classic’s & Air Huarache’s growing up. Respect to my Mum who worked 3 jobs so she could dress us well and provide us with the clothing we wanted as kids. When the opportunity came to collaborate with the likes of Marc Jacobs and create a bespoke piece for their Soho store it seemed like the natural thing to do.
Who would you like to collaborate with the most?
I would love to collaborate with Givenchy as I think they are dope. Louis Vuitton and the likes of Alexander Mcqueen as designers are like the equivalent of artists such as Dali, they are living geniuses. If I do anything I always take things to the next level with my energy, enthusiasm and passion for art I need the right tools to execute what I do so collaborating with such brands would need to be remembered years after it was done otherwise what’s the point in doing it.
Why do you think Street Art has become so big in the last 10 years compared to the more traditional graffiti style stuff on trains & subways etc?
Money. Artists have been corrupted by money so artists and writers have jumped on the ‘street art’ bandwagon thinking they will get a quick fix. Its become more about painting for money as oppose to what you believe in. It takes time to master your craft going through endless mistakes, experimenting and going deeper into different colours etc than just a quick fix.
If you were commissioned a $1000000 to do some work you didn’t believe in would you ‘sell out’ so to speak and do it?
I don’t believe there is really such thing as ‘selling out’, if you gave me a million dollars I would give you a piece of art that is worth that amount. As long as I am proud of my work the monetary value placed on the piece is irrelevant. The best advise a mentor gave me was ‘the best artists are the best collectors’ and when you start to see things like that it changes your outlook.
Take us through your daily routine from start to finish?
Wake up get a cup of tea as not a coffee drinker. Start some painting then jump on the train to Soho & Lower Eastside and then go to my friends restaurant, browse a few clothing stores, stop by my friends tattoo studio and have a chat, head to a coffee shop and grab a quick sandwich then head to my friends bar and then my usual nightclub the Hotel Chantelle then home for about 3-4am and I start painting again where I left off. Pretty much the same routine most days!
What do you do when not drawing?
I love mixing drinks ‘mixology’ and have been doing it for a few years. I also love cooking, checking out as many art galleries as I can and traveling. Music wise I generally get a few albums a year and just listen to them but like all sorts such as Kanye, Jay-Z, The Rolling Stones, Muddy Waters, U2, The Bullets and slowly getting into UK Grime.
What is your favourite part of New York?
I have spent the last 15 years hanging out in in Soho although I live Brooklyn. Its a breeding ground for creativity and its where everyone use to head to as a place where they could relax without feeling threatened by other areas of the City. It was like you could only feel safe in the area you were from like if you were from the Bronx you couldn’t go to Brooklyn and vice versa. Heading to Downtown & Lower Eastside was a mutual thing, not being judgemental about how much money you had or reputation just about how creative you were.
Above: Karl and Anna © Bradley Theodore 2016, acrylic on canvas, courtesy Maddox Gallery
Above: Kate Moss Playboy Bunny © Bradley Theodore 2016, acrylic on canvas, courtesy Maddox Gallery