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JO BRADFORD | ‘Autogenesis’
February 22nd 2024
Attending to singular and flawless hues in the spectrum, inside her darkroom, Jo Bradford captures azurite, incarnadine, heliotrope, teal and others in their fleeting existence. Often it is a tightly choreographed play, allowing colour to merge into each other on the light-sensitive paper, creating new harmonious and eccentric hues in the space where they intersect. Bradford is a colourist at heart, an artist who have made colour the subject of her work and the focus of her practice for almost twenty years. A set of 15 luminograms, titled Autogenesis, is an immaculate example of Bradford’s first passage in the continuum.
by Henrik Riis
PRINT EDITION RELEASE
Spontaneous creation can occur anywhere and at any time. Besieged by darkness of gradually shorter winter days, while resisting relentless and chilly North Atlantic winds swiping over the British landscape, one house on the edge of a Dartmoor hillside found itself as the origin of a novel composition between light and darkness. The result was a journey into the spectrum of colour, captured in a darkroom, and evidenced only on photographic paper. The Greek philosophers, Aristotle and Empedocles - founders of the doctrine of ‘spontaneous creation’ or ‘Autogenesis’ - had not been far off back then in Antiquity; from apparently “nothing” - filtered by trial and error - new makings can rise. In the late autumn of 2015, Jo Bradford proved them right.

Bradford’s interest in a lesser practised part of the field, also known as camera-less photography, were ignited ten years earlier during her studies at University College Falmouth. With no lens in between the source and the medium, in this practice, light is used as a “painting brush” directly onto light-sensitive paper, allowing an artistic freedom to create images which are not a representation of the real world as normally associated with photographs. In a form of photographic minimalism, Bradford looked at the world around her and presented works showing star-constellations, a fusionist sun and other cosmic objects; as well as subjects closer to Earth, such as flora and urban landscapes. Figurative in their presentation, the natural world was always a strong influence in Bradford’s works
JO BRADFORD
Autogenesis (set of 15), 2016

Edition of 15
4 Artist Proof (APs)

167(w) x 100(h) cm
65.75(w) x 39.37(h) inches
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JO BRADFORD
Autogenesis (set of 15), 2016

Edition of 15
4 Artist Proof (APs)

167(w) x 100(h) cm
65.75(w) x 39.37(h) inches
ENQUIRY
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Jo Bradford (British, b. 1972)
167(w) x 100(h) cm
65.75(w) x 39.37(h) inches
Set of 15 c-type lambda prints from luminograms on Fuji Crystal Archive gloss paper

Price include framing of the 15 individual pieces.
Edition of 15
PRICE
$ 7,760.00 Available from a private collection
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In 2012 the scientific approach of her practice caught the attention of Imperial College London. Funded by the Wellcome Trust, Bradford was commissioned for a series of works referencing a different part of the natural world; one not visible to the naked eye. The series, ‘Beautiful Science’, drew on original data from twelve scientists from the Imperial College and interpreted by Bradford into images created by exposing layer upon layer of modulated light onto photographic paper in the darkroom. One set of images, ‘Lensless Molecular Imaging’, was produced in collaboration with Dr Rhiannon White, who uses similar techniques in visualising her scientific results within epidemiology and biostatistics. At first glance the colourful narrow horizontal lines in multiple columns may look abstract, almost similar to a DNA sequence, but once the connection to the origin is realised, these images of the molecular world interestingly change into figurative pieces, bridging the gap between science and art.

The scientific subject matter of the project with Imperial College influenced a shift in Bradford’s practice; a process gently pushing aside her figurative works. Now, colour became the central theme. Moving along the spectrum of light, Bradford started to experiment with distinctive hues, blending closely related colours on the same sheet of paper, and using masks to cover and control the exposure. After days on end spent in the darkroom, the result was an autogenesis within her practice. Aptly titled Autogenesis, the first work, containing fifteen luminograms, is a partial portrait of the band of colour, showing a continuous flow of appealing hues. In this work there is no correct beginning or end in the way the series is displayed; as long as the sequence of the luminograms is intact, the first piece will connect to the last.

Autogenesis are pure photographs that don’t represent an external reality, referring only to themselves. They’re essentially photographs of photography, with colour as the subject.

Instigating a change in Jo Bradford’s practice towards colour as her artistic focus, Autogenesis also marked the beginning of the artist’s representation by Eyestorm; a collaboration introducing three other series in the following years: Elements (2016), Continuum (2017) and Portals (2018/2019). The 15 photographs comprising Autogenesis are created from positives of the original luminograms, subsequently printed as Chromagenic type lambda prints on Fuji Crystal Archive gloss paper. Each print from the edition of 15 is signed and numbered on a label on verso.

To view the print edition in further detail and to find more information about available works by Jo Bradford, visit the artist’s page here.
 
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Collecting vintage colour charts, textile cut-offs, books on colour, colour chips and charts, Jo Bradford has devoted two decades in search of the hues she believes have been ‘left the shadows’; minor colours of the spectrum, or those that sit in-between the primary ones of the rainbow. From the black void of the artist’s darkroom, the works emerge, painted by the choreographed exposure to light sources. A methodical and meticulous process. Following the works Autogenesis and Continuum, the series of four Portals explore a more figurative subject as the door to her darkroom opens and the light from outside flows in.
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