In cities, where does public space stop and privacy begin? Which experiences are purely personal and which ones are driven by commercially motivated impulses? Can we see the city and ourselves for what they actually are amidst the vast array of signs and images clamoring for our attention?
The American artist Brad Downey tackles these and other structural, social, and political questions in his work. With the element of surprise firmly on his side, he creates powerful interventions that disrupt the routine of our visual perception. A shopping cart becomes a sculpture, a telephone booth is filled with balloons, and a stop sign is turned upside down. Using elements from film, sculpture, painting, and drawing, Downey creates remarkable work ranging from the spectacular and headline-making to the small, delicate, and almost hidden.
Downey’s interventions in the cityscape can be spontaneous, subtle, and fleeting—it is precisely the way they interact with their surroundings that make them so effective. Some exist for barely half an hour before they are “corrected” again; others integrate themselves into the urban landscape and become a permanent work of art in the process. Downey’s art discourages quick glances and celebrates the double take. It encourages the viewer to take a hard look and refreshes the powers of discrimination that so often become jaded in the visual Babylon of our times.
Brad Downey earned a Master of Fine Arts in painting under the tutelage of Bruce McLean. He holds workshops throughout the world and has been invited to create his “spontaneous sculptures” in places including New York, Berlin, Moscow, London, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai.