Among the many attributes a successful artist must have are talent, endurance, and vision. But perhaps, most of all, for an artist to rise to the top of his profession, he must have ample devotio—devotion to beauty, to his craft, to the world’s bounty. Along with these important qualities, painter Brad Overton has a remarkable ability to portray original images in an inimitable signature style.
Overton’s paintings are more than works of art. Each is a deeply thought-out concept founded on his imaginative exploration and contemporary reinterpretation of metaphor, symbols, art history and classical themes. He allows our understandings of traditional portrayals to expand into new and exciting territory.
From an early age, Overton was drawn to art and, during his years at the University of Utah, pursued a triple major in theater, music, and art, later adding poetry and studying with Poet Laureate Mark Strand. He excelled in each area of interest—for example, he was a talented tenor with a four-octave operatic range. As he explored this rich educational bounty, it ultimately became clear that a career as a painter would allow him to unite and share everything he’d learned and loved.
Inspired by the early 20th-century zinc etchings of La Calavera Catrina by the Mexican printmaker José Guadalupe Posada, Overton often chooses to expand on the symbol’s life versus death duality, but in his own modern and luminous manner. Lushly painted portrayals of women with stark white faces marked boldly and suggestively in a nod to the Mexican metaphor are richly evocative of life’s cornucopia, a symbol of the pleasures to be indulged in before the lights go out. Each features a wild headdress array of roses, marigolds, zinnias and greenery in high-energy hues. Some images, such as Moyetzicate, hark back to ancient times when Nahuatl dreams held sway—she emerges out of a dark and mysterious past. Other images, such as Saudade, are a figurative recollection of deep emotional states of nostalgia or melancholy, a longing for love lost. Valiente, part of a new series, explores Catrina on a vintage motorcycle riding fearlessly through a saguaro filled desert road at night.
Another vastly appealing theme Overton explores is the Koshare, a playful trickster of the Kachina religion of the Pueblo Indians of the US Southwest. The artist often pairs his interpretations of these lithe male figures with vintage toys such as a child’s tricycle or skateboard in striking poses that lend his compositions a strong geometric aspect. One especially fascinating presentation is Giant Killer, a Southwest translation of the story of David and Goliath. For each of these figures, their presence as visitors from the spiritual world is emphasized by the icon-like ethereal gold or silver halos encircling their heads.
Recognition of Brad Overton’s artistic mastery continues to mount and his paintings are in corporate, university, and private collections. His dramatic and intriguing paintings draw the eye and break open our imaginations. They allow us to step into another world, remind us of life’s beauty and possibilities and the fleetness of time. More examples of Brad Overton's painting can be seen on his artist page.