The Gates of Many Colors

Slater Bradley
Galería Pelaires
Mallorca, Spain
20.3.2020 – 29.5.2020

Can The Artist, as an archetype, connect our secular contemporary realities to a more
transcendental awareness that incorporates our ancient wisdoms, systems, and even
prophecies? American artist Slater Bradley’s newest body of work – The Gates of Many
Colors – sees the artist (The Artist) adopting the role of a diviner; a conduit to
knowledge he has come to acutely perceive in recent years of reflection and
autodidactic studies of multiple religions and various branches of metaphysics. This
awareness is reflected in his recent work.

In eight digital photographs transferred onto two-meter high canvases, eight gates of
Jerusalem’s Old City Wall are depicted as monumental edifices. The images of the gates
and the walls surrounding them nearly fill the picture planes; everyday features like
parked cars and graffiti are visible. Yet the photographs are altered: in most, the sky
appears as a flat, bright color rendered in acrylic applied directly to the photograph-on-
canvas, the gate portal appears as another color. The clear hues — red, orange, yellow,
green, blue, indigo and violet — also align with the symbolic colors of the chakra
system that the Hindu and Buddhist religions attribute to energy wheels within the
subtle body. The color progression culminates in transcendence through the crown
chakra at the top of the head and connects the human to the divine. Bradley explains
that in The Gates, the colors also refer to the Biblical figure of Joseph, the eleventh son
of Jacob and firstborn of Rachel gifted with profound intuition and the ability to
interpret dreams; the father one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The Bible’s Book of
Genesis (37:3) describes how Joseph was given a coat of many colors, only to incur the
jealousy of his brothers and be sold into slavery before rising to a position of power
later in life.

Joseph’s was an arduous spiritual journey toward knowledge and enlightenment; the
sequential colors symbolic of transcendence. Bradley adds yet another layer of ancient
meaning to this series, seeing, as did many ancients, the Old City of Jerusalem as
analogous to the body. Bradley photographed the gates over three days of the winter
solstice in 2018 (the timing of the photography carefully calibrated to Venus’s morning
rise and the winter solstice’s “Golden Gate” portal alignment to the source of new
consciousness, which Bradley previously explored in his “SUNDOOR” body of work)
in a series of performative gestures; passing through the gates like the meditative
circumambulations of eastern devotional practice (with the exception of the Golden
Gate—an eastern entrance point that has been blocked since the medieval era and will
only be opened when the true messiah comes, thus the black sky). An identical rainbow
of threads sewn along the lower edge of each canvas “grounds” the works; the threads’
ends are left dangling like those in unconnected electrical circuits. Their presence acts
as an additional symbol of Joseph’s colorful coat but also the canvas’s materiality,
connecting the sacred meaning inherent in the works to more earthly concerns.

“Lucifer’s Shield” (2020), comes from Bradley’s “Shield” series, created through
thousands of tiny hand-applied pen strokes in gold ink, a kind of pointillist monochrome
applied over a mounted photograph of the chapel of Ascension on the Mount of Olives,
where Jesus Christ is said to have ascended. Lucifer was a fallen angel, his name
analogous not to darkness but light; numerologically, says Bradley, Joseph is a coded
reference to Lucifer: Those who have possess all colors are the bringers of light.

The Gates are portals to a holy place recognized by all three of the world’s major
monotheistic religions; the colors applied to Bradley’s representations of them—which
appear both curious and perhaps even ominous at times, yet also optimistic—hope to
activate new kinds of awareness in exhibition viewers. Together and individually, these
pictures evoke mysteries that transcend belief: Bradley does not call for belief, but
rather for experience, like his own in photographing these images under special
conditions (as he says, in an effort to metaphorically break barriers). “Humanity is
where we are because the Golden Gate is blocked,” he claims. “Our access to the
spiritual worlds has been blocked by materialist pursuits.”

The pieces differ from the color-symbolic works of other artists inspired by or evoking
spiritual or even occult practices, like Hilma af Klint’s divinely-inspired curls and
circles, Mark Rothko’s vibrational color fields, and Agnes Martin’s rigorous yet
somehow meditative geometries. They are neither abstractions, nor do they attempt to
erase or deny the worldly. They rather take our ordinary, fragmented, and often violent
realities as a starting point toward developing a collective, and even cosmic
consciousness; toward a paradigm shift away from destruction, extraction, and
distraction and toward wisdom and healing. Bradley has long known that there is more
knowledge out there, and available in different forms, than most dare to admit or
attempt to decode. The ancients were onto something.