Continuing through September 20, 2019
The 18 oil paintings in Bradford Salamon’s current solo exhibition, “Retro Mania,” are finely detailed and vibrantly colored so as to bring the everyday objects he lavishes his attention on to come to life. They take on identities that go beyond the banal objects they really are. They are in fact portraits of long familiar objects, presented without irony to permit our feelings of nostalgia for them. Further, the paintings take us that special place where form, shape, color and light merge and flow in harmony.
“It’s Redy to Tell a Story,” its title a play on words, conveys a “red” 80-something-year old typewriter that fills the canvas, which is free of what Salamon refers to as “a supporting cast” or additional objects that would thereby create a narrative. The typewriter is like a lone actor on a stage, a character that tells its stories without distractions. “It Adds Up to a Lot” portrays an adding machine with another clever neologism. The beauty of this prosaic object, with its black, white and red keys and deep green case, transcends its outdated function. Salamon, far from trying to take us back to a lost time, plunks it down squarely in our present.
“William Wray’s Childhood Turntable,” a portrait of a record player that artist friend Wray gave to Salamon, brings us into empathic contact with a now grown child who back then reveled in songs by ‘60s era performers. More tantalizing is “Smash Burger,” a juicy, even sexy hamburger with dripping cheese, and lettuce, tomato and onion that fills up most of the canvas. This sinfully unhealthy meal serves as an apt metaphor for unbridled gratification. Other paintings in this series depict an old camera, a train, a motorcycle, two vintage radios, a more contemporary tobasco sauce bottle and a can of sex wax. Salamon's virtuoso paint handling brings meticulous artistry into direct contact with the enduring presence and psychic mystery of these antique objects.