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Rave review for alumnus Mark Bradford's exhibition

December 6, 2012
Art 21

On View Now | Mark Bradford and the Revival of Abstraction

I must admit that I am often disappointed by contemporary abstract painting. The technical freedom available to and implicit in abstraction would appear to offer entire worlds of possible production, but too much abstract painting today operates within carefully pre-determined formal codes of what abstraction ought to look like, which results in artwork that often uses color and form so as to conjure an aura of meaningfulness yet cannot escape seeming quaintly derivative. Perhaps the art market and institutions have by now weighed so much so on the freedom of aesthetic production, forming and informing our personal and collective comprehension of what constitutes abstract painting, that today abstraction as a formal category often lapses into familiar territory.

It gave me great pleasure, then, to conclude that Mark Bradford’s monumental new work, currently on view at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. in New York, continues the artist’s almost single-handed revival of contemporary abstraction from its doldrums, and affirms to my mind that progressive abstract painting indeed still has much to offer.

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