Brad Kunkle falls into the tradition of “realist” painters. Don’t mistake this art for old fashioned or conservative. In a recent article on the Huffington Post:
Rather than focusing on life’s hardships, like the Social Realism of the early 20th century, today’s Progressive Realists are interest in human identity in the context of social and political constructs. To put it another way, realists have taken on many of the view and projects that have pre-occupied Postmodernists, but do so using time-honored methods and media.
It often seems as if art isn’t surreal, edgy or abstract it gets denigrated. There is an aversion to “beauty”. This ignores the longing for beauty that is apparent in any casual perusal of Instagram. Art can speak to contemporary life and be beautiful.
I am reminded of a lesson I learned in Junior High. My teacher asked me how I knew what grotesque meant. I said that it was ugly and bad. He made me read carefully from the dictionary. The dictionary at the time corresponded roughly to this definition (taken from Online Etymology): wildly formed, of irregular proportions, boldly odd. Wild, irregular and bold – not evil or even ugly. My teacher explained that words weren’t good or bad, it was only the meanings and associations we attached to them. If we attach a meaning of “conservative” or “against change” to a particular style of art we deprive the artist the right to give meaning to their work and we also deprive viewers of finding their own meaning in the work. It is certainly right to form opinions about art and to know what art we like, but to ascribe a moral or political meaning to an entire genre of art robs all of us. And so, on that note – the art of Brad Kunkle.
See more new work by Brad Kunkle on Vimeo.