Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
My name is Brad Hoseley and I’m an artist based in New York City. Currently I make paintings that blurs the line of abstraction and representation. With subject matter that ranges from imaginative still lives to steamy gay sex scenes. Reflecting on my everyday life and the stories I read influence the images in my work.
How did you get started as an artist?
I’ve been making art as long as I can remember. Growing up I would make drawing of fantasy characters, creatures, and really bad fan art of video games I was into. It’s something that has always stuck and I’ve always enjoyed making this art. Creating worlds and just letting my imagination run wild.
Who are some of your biggest artistic inspirations?
A lot of my artistic inspirations comes from design, typography, and architecture. I really enjoy soaking up the environment around me, I find inspiration in mundane things. Such as a graphic for a meat packing business that’s on the side of a van. The colors of a hole in the wall restaurant that I’ve gone to. I like to take these moments when I’m out and about and see how the environment comes together. However there are artist that always circle back into my life, Josef Albers, Sadao Hasegawa, Martin Wong, Francis Bacon, and Helen Frankenthaler. Through color, composition and ideas these artist have played a role in my own art making.
I love the ‘’queer surrealism’’ in your work; where do you pull imagery from, and how do you go about creating these scenes?
The imagery is coming from my everyday life. When I’m out in the world I’m observant of my surroundings, the people, the movement, the energy. The subject matter is taken from these moments and become skewed and blown out of proportion. I want this work to have this humor, tension, and control. I’m intentionally placing these objects within these scenes that then connect to other objects, giving the viewer the sense that this world is a larger whole. It’s all interconnected like how we are as a society. A viewer can draw a through line within this work. For example I use the checkerboard motif, it’s been done so many times but in this work it becomes this base, this game board of motion. Setting these parts into place and waiting for everything to become acted out. The cherry is another great example. It has so many different connotations attached to it that can lead a viewer through the work. Personally for me it’s a moment of sweet release, a bite of sex, a moment of tenderness, it’s fleeting.
Many of the figures in your work are anonymous, abstracted bodies. What draws you to rendering your figures in this way?
The second a face is shown we as humans want to try and recognize that face and place an identity to it. With a lot of my recent work I intentionally wanted anonymity. It forces a viewer to see these figures more as an object in the scene. Its taking up space, its interacting with the environment, those acts are more important then letting a viewer know who said figure is. This framework of thinking goes back to the art of cruising and how these men move within a space, interact with one another and leave. Its not about the person per say but more about the action, danger, vulnerability that one is engaging with. These figures in my paintings are the fleeting moments that have a placeholder for a time in ones life. The abstraction becomes a tool to draw a viewer in and then the scene comes into play.
Having a background in printmaking, what made you shift more towards painting? Would you say this influenced the more graphic qualities of your painting work?
I shifted towards painting for two main reasons. The first reason was the pandemic and not having the opportunity to go work in a print shop. In loosing access to a print shop I began to understand how inaccessible it became for me. The second reason was I wanted to have as studio and couldn’t afford that and access to a print shop. Through this process I explored new was of making, drawing, design, and painting. I fell in love with painting through this transitional period. Painting really has become an extension of how I printed. Formulaic and intentional. I paint as if I’m layering a print, limiting my colors and never letting anything overlap unless its the black layer. My favorite part about this process is I didn’t even realize I was doing this until I had a studio visit where they pointed out that the paintings have this silkscreened quality to them. I had been doing it unconsciously for so long.
Growing up in Idaho and moving to NYC, how has your relationship to your artwork changed, if at all?
My relationship to art has been a very fast track journey. I really never understood art until I left for college kinda on a whim. I really had no plans to go to school after high school but I applied to an art school in Seattle and Portland. I got into both and decided that I’d go to school in Portland, I had family nearby and I loved visiting. Upon arriving to school I quickly learned that I didn’t know shit about art. My high school basically taught me the fundamentals and a few dead artist. It was college where I really started to understand what art could be. I felt like I fell into this whirlwind of contemporary art that made me so desperately wanting to catch up with my peers. Through this college experience I was able to form this relationship with art and how I want my own practice to be. I finished school in 2018 and in 2019 I decided that I wanted to really get my career somewhere and if I was gonna do that I needed to move where art was happening, NYC or LA. Im not a fan of LA and I’d never been to NYC so I said fuck it lets go. My goal was to move in Spring of 2020, then you know the world kinda fell apart so I didn’t get out here until April of 2021. In this process I made it very clear to myself that I’m moving for my practice and I’m dedicated to that. I have created this discipline for myself that has become very fruitful to my creativity. Its as if I’ve found a well within me that keeps the creativity flowing.
Could you talk a little bit about your series, ‘’A John’s Diner’’, and what inspired it?
A John’s Diner spawned after a studio visit I had in which they left me thinking about rules and refinement. I was basically posed with a question of what happens to the work if it had a set of rules and I could only do certain things. So this sat with me and I began to think about what that would look like. I started to reflect on my time in the service industry and how I’d work an 8 hour shift and the chaos would ensue in that time. It then clicked I’d make 8 paintings each painting being an hour of that shift. From here I decided that all the paintings needed the same checkerboard floor and color pallet. This gives the series a sense of movement and grounds the scene. I didn’t want the work to be directly referential to bars and restaurants I’ve worked in so I decided to place it into of my favorite restaurant setting a diner. A diner is a charged space, a space of gathering, rebellion, exclusion, etc. So this work plays with my own personal experience while also examining the outside forces around us. Subtle commentaries on capitalism, heteronormativity and labor. The work finds balance in humor and critical thought. The works intent is to be playful but critical at the same time. We all deserve a good laugh and flex a brain muscle or two.
What does your studio / workspace look like?
Its balancing on a board between chaos and organized. I have a decent sized space that I share with a good friend. Tall ceilings and a window. A wall I hang my canvas to work on, another wall to hang work and think. It beats my first NY studio any day of the week.
There is a strong element of humor and playfulness in your work, for example, your piece ‘’Bottom goes to New York’’. Where do you locate the humor in and/or subvert personal experiences within your work?
I love a good dad joke, something that has been said a million times, you can see the set up, the punchline, the delivery. When these paintings started this is how I approached humor within the work. I’d reflect on these moments or times in my life and turn them into these humorous moments. In doing this I wanted to give a viewer a moment to digest what they are seeing, a good chuckle. Humor is important, we need to laugh our smile, the world is a pretty shitty place and if I can bring a moment of joy I want that in my work. A Bottom goes to New York spawned out of me walking to the gym one morning and a rat running into my foot. This then became the ground work of the scene. I began to dissect the stereotypical symbols that can be attached to New York, an apple, the empire state building etc. Placing it all into a scene giving a viewer a sense of familiarity that they can find some relatability to. So humor becomes this device to elaborate my personal experience while giving the viewer a chance to formulate their own.
What are you currently listening to?
These last few weeks I’ve been listening to Naysayer, Take Offense, Depeche Mode, The Beautiful Ones, boygenius, Ekulu, and Brooks and Dunn. A rotation of Hardcore, pop and 90s country.
Any upcoming projects you are excited about?
I had a duo show up at MRKT Gallery in San Francisco last month. Currently working on a collaborative project with a friend about gay graphics that will be coming out some time this year. Another thing is a printed publication with A Johns Diner is in the works. Lastly more paintings, a new direction that falls in line with the work that was at MRKT Gallery.
Interview conducted by Ben Herbert and edited by Milo Christie.