Seeing Forest and the Trees

New Hampshire artist Bradley Castellanos creates meticulously layered, cinematic landscapes are sublime and evocative.

Bradley Castellanos’ meticulously layered, cinematic landscapes are comparable to the romantic images painted by famed Hudson River School artists—with a twist. Like the 19th century painters whose landscapes reflected concepts of sublime and beauty, Castellanos is fascinated by people’s effect on the landscape. But his thought-provoking, collaged landscapes are more abstract than idyllic. “My work is about celebrating the landscape and what’s unique about it,” he says.

Nature has always been part of Castellanos’ identity so it’s no surprise that the natural world is reflected in his art. Born in Connecticut, he grew up on Florida’s east coast. He trained as a painter, first at Skidmore College and later he received a master’s in fine art from New York City’s School of Visual Arts. In 2016, after living and working in Brooklyn for many years, he and his wife, artist Allison Hawkins, moved with their two daughters to Exeter, New Hampshire. His white-walled, spacious studio, located in a low-slung industrial building, is less distracting than the hustle-bustle of New York City. “The quiet and focus I have here is new,” he says.

Blue Moon, 2016, Acrylic and photo collage on paper mounted on panel 45” x 36”, photo courtesy of the artist and RYAN LEE NY 2017.

Castellanos researches and photographs landscapes and structures that interest him; he stages his scene and shoots with a digital camera, using it like a sketching tool. The images are digitally manipulated and collaged, then artfully cut with an X-Acto blade and glued on wood. He then further re-works the image with oil or acrylic paint. The result is a series of highly textured and layered abstractions, both familiar and imagined. “My images may be inspired by the neighborhood, or coming upon something bizarre in the landscape,” Castellanos says. “They’re a play between abstraction and landscape.”

Castellanos’ early work captures desolate, even apocalyptic, images of New York City and the Northeast United States. His urban cityscapes and industrial landscapes were shot using a large format camera. He’s since transitioned to creating more lush, evocative landscapes, reflected in his most recent solo exhibition, Sunshine State, at Manhattan’s Ryan Lee Gallery this past June.

Hunting is Painting, 2017, Oil, acrylic, and photo collage on panel, 47.25” x 60.25”, photo courtesy of the artist and RYAN LEE NY, 2017

Although he’s only been in New Hampshire a year, the state’s forested landscape and historic architecture has already impacted his work. Castellanos’ family has vacationed on Lake Winnipesaukee for generations and their lakeside cabin has inspired several paintings. He’s currently creating a series of figurative works. “I think I’m producing the tightest and most technical work now,” he says. “My latest work is always, to me, my most exciting work.”

Bradley Castellanos–artist
Exeter, New Hampshire
Top image installation view of Sunshine State at RYAN LEE, NY, 2017. All images courtesy the artist and RYAN LEE, NY.
Janet ReynoldsSeeing Forest and the Trees

Related Posts

Sam Paolini, Spring Bizaare, detail, Wrong Brain poster

Quick Takes: Wrong Brain Is Right-On

Thousands of unconventional and underrepresented creatives have a welcoming outlet in Wrong Brain on the New Hampshire Seacoast.

Ethan Hayes-Chute, MIT Installation hero

If You Build It

Artist Ethan Hayes-Chute creates installations that are odes to self-sufficiency, self-preservation and collaboration.

Jackie Brown, Mutated Growth

Playfully Connected

Working with malleable materials like clay, Jackie Brown creates immersive sculptures that explore living forms and structures.