David Bradley (b.1954, Minnesota Chippewa) has, over the course of a four-decade painting career, continued to expand the definition of art from “Indian Country” and what is expected of its aesthetic and meaning, within the problematic context of American visual culture. In the process he also redefined what pop art itself can achieve.
“Using his extensive knowledge of traditional Native American painting, European modern art and the tourist culture in Santa Fe,” says Amy Scott, the Autry's executive vice president for research and interpretation and Marilyn B. and Calvin B. Gross curator of visual arts, “Bradley's tone is often deceptively light, and his work fills viewers with a kind of joy, even as it implores them to digest the biting comments he makes about the world around him.”
His innovative style blends traditions from indigenous art with art-historical tropes of European and U.S. art as well as cues from the languages of commerce and tourism. From Warhol to O'Keefe, van Gogh to the Lone Ranger, his colorful, witty tableaux present with the vibrating energy of pop but reveal deeper, more complex investigations of identity, politics, social justice and cultural appropriation. The latter, as Bradley reveals with gusto, can cut both ways.
The Autry Museum, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Griffith Park; Tue.-Fri., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m., March 31-Jan. 5; $14. (323) 667-2000, theautry.org.