Thaddeus Radell: Essays in the Epic

June 10, 2017 Review by Larry Goodrich


Time was, painters were drawn to notions of the epic. All manner of artists – from Titian to Goya to Picasso—tried their hand at grand mythological or historical themes. Even when the Abstract Expressionists largely abandoned figuration, they still pursued the transcendent effect; for them, the epic was part and parcel of painting.

In our post-modernist era, however, tastes seem to run more towards the ironic and the quirky. These days we turn to paintings for intimations of the political and the social, not the heroic or the legendary.  

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Thaddeus Radell at Sideshow

Brooklyn Art Blog, September 2017

Thaddeus Radell’s work brings new life to ‘figurative’ work. The paintings show figures, but they seem both literal and figurative [symbolic]. And they don’t disguise the fact that they’re made out of ‘stuff’.

They remind me a bit of Lascaux cave paintings, some of the first ever done by humans. We have the material to look at, and lens of history, but that’s never enough.

What was the first painter thinking? Was it just a continuation of everyday life? Or maybe the work had symbolic power, or a social angle. I suspect they must have had a premonition of things to come, and were reaching for that thing just outside the cave of shadows and reason.

In Shakespeare too, the best part is that’s it’s always about real life, and more than the play, and so is always breaking through the fourth wall, even though that part of it is only obvious is fits and starts.

So this work provides the opportunity to be transfixed, oscillating between the material and the real, suggesting it may be possible to break through that wall once again.

Historical and Contemporary Art Gallery, Atlanta Georgia


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