Mark Bradford: Best Painter in America?

Mark Bradford, We May Be Running Out of a Past, 2012, mixed media collage on can
Mark Bradford, We May Be Running Out of a Past, 2012, mixed media collage on canvas, 102 x 144 inches, 259.1 x 365.8 cm (courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York)

Thomas Micchelli blogs about the paintings of Mark Bradford, on view at Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York through December 22, 2012.

Driven to see the exhibition by a suggestion in the New York Times that Bradford may be "the best painter working in America today," Micchelli concludes that "credible case can be made" for the assertion. In Bradford's paintings, Micchelli writes, the "surfaces - accreted through improvisation and accident – are dense with the authority of their own thing-ness, resolving themselves around the colors, textures and shapes inherent in their materials... Beyond their formal inventiveness, there is another, more speculative reason why Bradford’s work has yet to get old. Curiously, it is not dissimilar to the way Mantegna would paint a Tuscan village in the hills rising behind the Crucifixion. By abstracting the stuff of everyday life - rather than treating as an object of irony or ridicule - Bradford is in a very real sense exalting it. Like Mantegna, he is folding his own time into a sacred space."