John Yau reviews the exhibition Katherine Bradford: August at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine, on view through September 1, 2013.
Yau writes: "Bradford has taken the unlikely genre of marine painting and transformed it into a densely packed, metaphorical realm that is simultaneously abstract and representational — which should clue the viewer in that one of the artist’s themes is a belief in choice. By refusing to fall into the either/or conundrum and instead openly embracing both possibilities, Bradford defers conclusion in favor of exploration... Like sailing ships — a subject the artist has painted, none of which are included in August — paintings are made of wood and canvas. And like a ship, a painting carries its contents (or meaning) into the future. The difference is that ships have destinations, while paintings float somewhere on the continuum of past, present and future, always vulnerable. They are at the mercy of time – a consequence they can (but don’t always) acknowledge."