9 - 29 September 2023
The Art Stable is delighted to be presenting a third exhibition of work by Robert and Dorothy Bradbury, the last one being in 2020, paintings that are full of energy, colour, and the warmth of the sun. We were introduced to their work by Mario Reading, who has sadly since passed away, but his enthusiasm for their work and his long and close relationship with Robert feels like a strong element of this exhibition too, and some of the paintings in this show come from his own collection, which was built up over many years visiting Dorothy and Robert in Deia. And it seems fitting that we reproduce the piece that Mario wrote for the last exhibition in 2012, which describes so well Dorothy and Robert’s life in Mallorca.
The Bradburys met as students in 1934 at the Fine Arts School of San Francisco. Dorothy came from an upper crust Californian family, while Bob famously bummed rides on the railways during the Great Depression. They arrived in Europe in 1949 just a few months after the birth of their only child, Suzanne. This voyage marked the beginnings of a love affair with Europe that culminated in the Bradburys moving permanently to Deià, Mallorca, in 1955. Deià, with its rugged beauty, the extraordinary layout of its houses and terraces, and its magnificent pine-clad coastline, was to prove the perfect environment for the Bradbury’s vision.
Both Bob and Dorothy lived for their art. Dorothy died at the age of 67 in 1980, but Bob continued to paint in the open air until just before his death in 2011, aged 98. In today’s embattled world, it is a delight to encounter the work of two artists who set out to celebrate its beauty in an unrestrained and unselfconscious way. Drawing their inspirations from Van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse, and Mallorcan predecessors such as Fuster Valiente, both artists succeeded in transcending their early influences, with Dorothy emphasizing the relationship between the feminine principle and the geography of Deià using an extraordinary technique of her own devising that straddles the border between printmaking and hand coloured mono-prints, while Bob moved towards a synthesis between the purity of Islamic art and Cezanne’s concepts of natural design.
To the end of his life Bob continued to live in the same conditions of utmost simplicity he had shared with Dorothy, in which he viewed the making of his art as an object lesson in humility. Their joint legacy - what one might reasonably call the fruits of their prelapsarian vision - still abides. Deià, though changed, largely retains the essence they found in it - an essence that somehow, miraculously, survived the Fall.
Mario Reading 2012