It’s pretty rare to see something that bypasses all my rational analysis of how and why someone did an artwork to simultaneously make me say, “Wow that’s so good” and “Fuck I wish I’d thought of that.”
Brad Teoduruk is an up-and-coming artist originally from the Blue Mountains, now living in Glebe. He’s already been represented by the well-established fine art crowd at Robin Gibson Gallery, won the Winsor and Newton scholarship prize, exhibited in Copenhagen, and is now being represented by our eagle-eyed mates at The New Standard gallery in Surry Hills. All this, and he’s only in his second year at the National Art School. This kind of attention is pretty much unheard of in Australia’s notoriously insular art crowd, but there is no doubt that his work not only deserves this kudos, but demands it.
Although Brad is a relative newcomer to the art world, he has been building his understanding of a creative output for some years. Originally playing in bands and striving to build an acting career, through the process of trial and error he’s landed on painting as his true passion. “Was it that my dream of acting was unattainable or was it the wrong dream? It was the wrong dream. It’s nowhere near creative enough for me,” he says.
“I worked consistently as an actor for five years. What a waste of time. I’ve always been an artist so I have a lot of work to catch up on (also why I make a lot of art). I have my own visions and don’t need to help someone see theirs.”
The idea of being a character seems to be a consistent motif in Brad’s life, to the extent that he has identified two distinct personalities within himself: ‘Vin Mariani’ (the rock ‘n’ roller) and ‘Sidney Taylor’ (the writer)—each with their own distinct modes of expression. Coming from acting and playing music in the surprisingly image-focused punk scene, Brad now has a diagnosis that seems to distil this attraction to multiple personas.
“Having borderline personality disorder comes with identity issues. I’m open to talk about it because it’s just a part of me that I have come to accept. It can be very frustrating for me and even more confusing for others who don’t know me well,” he says.
“I often want to change my name depending on how I feel. I am convinced some days that I’m going to change my name legally and other days I’m like ‘who gives a fuck, a name is a name’. More importantly, it affects my work. I come up with ideas that I’m so sure about. I pour all my energy into it only to turn around a couple of days later and chase something else. I’m not interested in a ‘style’ though. I’m interested in making art.”
Brad’s other passion for vintage clothing fits seamlessly with this idea and every time I’ve visited his studio, he has a new and exciting outfit.
“I work in a vintage store because I want to, and as the saying goes, you hang around the barber shop long enough you are going to get your hair cut.”
The volume of art coming from Brad’s studio is nothing short of impressive. Ideas seemingly don’t sit long before being translated into tangible works. This approach is a clear philosophy that seems to work for Brad; instead of sitting around thinking about all the great things he wants to do, he just does them.
“The most important part of the painting process for me is the uncertainty, the mistake making and the problem-solving. I love that guy (Ushio Shinohara) who goes in with boxing gloves and dips them in paint and punches the canvas!” he says.
“That’s what it’s all about: it’s a war! The moment you know what you’re doing, forget about it. This has happened to me with my recent work, I copied my studies and it came out exact. That is a form of illustration and while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with illustration, it’s just not what I’m after. Art is the teacher and I’m learning all the time.”
If you are reading this and wondering how a second-year art school student could be so excitedly adopted into the art scene when many artists slave for years to be noticed or get representation, the answer is frustratingly simple. I asked Brad for a play-by-play.
“I put together a solo exhibition last year, hired a space with my own money, gathered all my works together, hung them up at The Shop Gallery in Glebe. The people from Robin Gibson Gallery came to the show. Robin himself came up to me and asked if I could write my name and details down on a piece of paper. I thought he owned a restaurant and perhaps wanted to buy one of the works (laughs). Then they contacted me for a meeting and finally asked to work with me.”
Brad has been making some pretty solid strides since then and will be having a solo show in March 2018 with all around legends, The New Standard Gallery. It seems to be a steady climb to the top but there are dangers with anyone who holds the double-edged sword of hype.
“I think the most dangerous thing for an artist to do is get stuck or caught up in a style and make the same work over and over because they know it will sell. I believe it’s an artist’s job to experiment and to explore ways of observation and to push themselves constantly. If you take away the money side of things—what do you want to explore? That’s one thing, validation is another. Beware of making art as a search for validation. Art is about expression and feeling.”