Gold is an extraordinarily malleable material. When hammered into very thin sheets, a kind of foil called “gold leaf”, a very small amount can cover a relatively large area, and it can be applied to surfaces for decorative effect.
Gold leaf has been applied to art objects and decorative surfaces through much of recorded history. The most common application familiar to contemporary artists is in the gilding of picture frames.
New York based artist Brad Kunkle, who has a background applying metal leaf as a decorative artist when he was younger, incorporates gold and silver leaf directly into his oil paintings, utilizing the material both for its symbolic and physical and visual properties.
Kunkle uses a very controlled, almost monochromatic palette in his paintings, the subjects of which are women, either in landscapes or amid elements of nature that are often in flux or in motion and in defiance of gravity or other natural laws.
Kunkle uses his metallic elements, pushed forward by the grisaille-like palette, to emphasize these magical or metaphysical suggestions, giving his images a kind of implied magic, perhaps coming full circle to one of the characteristics that has been ascribed to precious metals, and gold in particular, throughout their historic use in art related to religion and ritual.
Kunkle’s work in currently on display in a solo show, The Women in the Fields of Gold, at the Arcadia Fine Arts gallery (Soho) in New York that runs until May 5. 2012.
Unfortunately, the Arcadia gallery’s website (though much improved over its previous versions) has navigation within a Flash file, and I can’t give you direct links. From the home page, choose: Exhibitions: Soho for a view of works in the show (while it’s current), and select the artist’s name from the main list on the home page to view his work as represented by the gallery at other times.
There is a Step by Step process series on Underpaintings.