Martin Bradley British, born 1931
Born in London, Martin Bradley wanted to be an artist from childhood. His guardian opposed the idea and Bradley left school and ran away to sea when he was fourteen. He served as a cabin boy on the Central and South American run and began to paint, mostly making academic portraits of his shipmates. Back in London Martin Bradley studied oriental languages, literature and art. Bradley was encouraged by several British scholars of Chinese, Tibetan and Japanese culture, and became particularly interested in the art and calligraphy of China and Japan.
In London artistic circles, Martin Bradley became acquainted with the writers known as the ‘Angry Young Men’, and himself became known as the ‘Rimbaud of Soho’ because of his unconventional and hard-drinking lifestyle. Galleries such as Gimpel Fils and the Redfern Gallery began to exhibit his work and in 1956 he joined Gallery One.
British collectors such as Sir Roland Penrose, Sir Herbert Read and Dame Barbara Hepworth acquired works by Martin Bradley. He went to Paris in the late 1950s and was taken up by Rudolphe Augustinci, director of the Galerie Rive Gauche, who was notable for showing artists such as Max Ernst, Yves Tanguy and René Magritte.
Augustinci promoted Martin Bradley’s work in Europe; and in London, Victor Musgrave continued to exhibit Bradley’s paintings at Gallery One. Martin Bradley's work from the 1950s and 1960s is primarily abstract, with strong calligraphic and symbolic influences. Martin Bradley lived for some years between Ibiza and Paris, and spent much of 1958 in Brazil on a scholarship. In 1961, after a personal crisis, Martin Bradley served briefly in the Spanish Foreign Legion, before deserting and returning to London.
In the later 1960s and early 1970s, Bradley travelled extensively in Asia and cultivated his gift as a linguist: Martin Bradley is able to speak more than ten languages including Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan and Hindi.
Martin Bradley became a convert to Nichiren Shôshû Buddhism 'which changed the whole foundation of my thinking', and has lived in Italy, France and England. Since 1954, Martin Bradley has had more than 130 solo exhibitions and his work has been collected worldwide.
Public collections include:
Albertina Museum, Vienna, Austria
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
British Museum, London
Chicago Art Institute, Chicago, USA
Contemporary Arts Society, London
Institute of Contemporary Art, Memphis, Tenessee, USA
La Ville de Paris, France
Musée d’Ostende, Ostende, The Netherlands
Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Museu de Arte Moderna, São Paulo, Brazil
Museum of Art, Taiwan
Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
Museum of Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
Musée Olympique, Lausanne, Austria
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
The Peggy Guggenheim Foundation, Venice, Italy
Silkeborg Kunstmuseum, Denmark
Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Tung-Lin Monastery, Hong Kong
University of South Florida, Tampa, USA