April 29, 2018
A work from Brett Goodroad’s Brighton Festival exhibition
Brighton Festival 2018: California-based artist Brett Goodroad set for debut UK show
IT MUST be exciting to be in regular email correspondence with David Shrigley.
You could never predict what would drop into your inbox next.
Californian-based artist Brett Goodroad, who will present 44 works specifically created for Brighton Festival, is lucky enough to have such a relationship with this year’s guest director. The two men met at the Headlands Center For The Arts in Brett’s home state in 2012 and have remained in remote contact since.
“I remember I was feeling pretty down one day, I don’t remember what about, and I sent him a picture of a bush or something in Golden Gate park,” says Brett. “He took that image and put this weird smiley face character in it. I think about that sometimes.”
The work of the two artists couldn’t be much further apart in style, but Brett finds much to admire in Shrigley’s creations.
“I feel like they have a certain clarity about them that I not only envy but appreciate,” he says. “It’s obviously interested in a type of truth.”
The artist adds that he and Shrigley don’t “talk about our processes in an intellectual conversation sort of way – it’s more about being supportive to each other”.
Brett grew up in Montana and now lives and works in San Francisco, painting in his back yard (“the fog is important to my work,” he says. “When it’s too sunny I can’t see ****).
He hails from a farming family, which he believes has influenced the art he makes to this day. Many of his paintings have taken the US landscape as inspiration.
The artist’s part-time job as a truck driver requires him to drive from California to Texas every ten days or so, which offers him plenty of vantage points of the surrounding scenery.
While Brett has mastered the practice of merging the pastoral with the abstract, he is always seeking to push himself – and he says his exhibition at Brighton Festival features some of his most direct work to date. It’s his first ever display in the UK. “As a maker you develop things that you are obviously good at, and I’m good at landscapes, trees, that kind of thing,” he says. “A lot of the painters in England like John Constable have been really influential, Frederick Church too.
“I’m quite fluent at that. What I’m not so fluent in, though, is interior space. There is always this arch-nemesis inside me that is trying to abstract things, despite how much I try and make the work articulate and specific.”
Brett’s truck driver job is partly a necessity, to support his work, but it carries many of its own rewards – from the communal aspect of the role to the time it gives him to ponder his art. “Unlike some other job when your mind is occupied, I can fill my mind with whatever when I’m driving from point a to point b,” he says. “After nine days in the studio I’m ready to take some time away, and the job allows me not to feel the pressure of the decision making. I don’t know when I’ll step away from it, but I’d really miss it.”
From his friendship with Shrigley to his marathon truck journeys to his backyard California studio, Brett certainly lives an interesting life – and that’s without mentioning his evocative work.
His exhibition at Brighton Festival is a rare chance to get inside the mind of this intriguing individual.
Phoenix Gallery, Brighton, Saturday, May 5, to Sunday, May 27, 11am to 5pm, brightonfestival.org