Bradley Hankey is a painter who works in a sort of updated classical mode, using photography to capture the spontaneous moods and magic moments of the Los Angeles environment, before translating these “sketches” into richly layered, evocatively colored meditations on nature and the city. Light and silhouette, expanses of bruised-fruit sky, sparkling tendrils of roadways, and the interventions of urban architectural flourishes into the inspirational surroundings are rendered in layer upon layer of color and wash, achieving a kind of fantasy realism that is undeniably Southern California. His new works are currently on display at Sue Greenwood Fine Art.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
BRADLEY HANKEY: One of my earliest memories is coloring with crayons on the kitchen floor. I remember telling people that I wanted to be an artist as soon as I could talk, so drawing and painting have always been a part of my life. I was lucky to have been encouraged by my family at an early age.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
My paintings are a direct response to my environment. I see imagery every day that compels me to paint. My work transforms the literal image into a figurative painting, abstracted with color and form, that describes what I felt when I was there.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
I almost went down the path of forest ecology in college. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and the forest environment that surrounded me became an important part of my life. Eventually, I chose to focus on my art, but the environment is still close to my heart.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
I went to art school at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. I loved art school. It was a great place to develop my art skills, be surrounded by peers, and connect with artists and professionals.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
L.A. feels like home now. I love it here. Los Angeles is a great place for artists because of the amazing arts community and the great weather. I like that people move here to fulfill their dreams. Southern California has also been a big influence on my work. I have been painting the area since I moved here in 2009.
When was your first show?
My first solo show was in 2014 at Skidmore Contemporary Art in Santa Monica at Bergamot Station, and I have been showing with Skidmore since then. In 2018, Sue Greenwood Fine Art in Laguna Beach started representing my work as well.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show?
My new paintings are currently on display at Sue Greenwood Fine Art. The body of work is titled “Here With Me.” The show runs until January 10.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show with?
It would be hard to choose just one artist! There are so many great artists that are working now. Historically, I would love to show with Mark Rothko, one of my painting heroes. His work is sublime, and has been a major influence on me because of the color and emotional content of his paintings.
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