Bradford Stewart shows me Poppyfields, an 8-foot-by-4-foot louder-than-bombs abstract painting that looks like a biological magnification. Its white and cobalt blue globs of paint lather a large mahogany base. At any distance, the colors and organic shapes appear to move and multiply. The painting is awesome, as is the intensity of the blue and the movement. Right away you feel something different and deep, something uplifting. “They want to make it into a rug,” Stewart says with a smile, “and I might just let them do it.”
For 25 years, Stewart has been painting abstract expressionism in Los Angeles and, in keeping with that tradition, painting large. What separates him from other abstract artists of the same genre are his highly textured surfaces. “I spent four or five years,” he says, “working almost exclusively on my surfaces so that they were really, really interesting. The build-up of paint creates a whole layering that is very lush. Many of the layers are translucent and pearlescent, letting light ricochet throughout the painting making it appear to shimmer off the wall. That’s why people are attracted to my work.” Some paintings are so texturized that they closely resemble the scaly skin of a crocodile. These unique paintings carry a $25,000-and-above price tag and display Stewart’s true signature (the other is found on the back of the canvas).
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