MARK BRADFORD at Sikkema Jenkins

Mark Bradford, Giant, 2007, 102" x 144"

Each time I've seen Mark Bradford's work I've been more amazed and convinced. The new pieces are again huge collage or decollage works that incorporate cartographic configurations like urban street layouts. But that's only the beginning. These things consist of layer upon layer of paper, images from billboard ads, packaging, other cultural detritus, apparently built up, torn off, sanded through; forming a mysterious organic anthropological amalgam. Each work presents itself as a sprawling, labor intensive, complex chunk of humanity. The obvious art-historical reference is Rauschenberg's Combines, and Bradford's work looks in many ways just as much in its own league as Rauschenberg's must have looked in the 50s. It flies in the face of prevailing cynicism regarding art's potential, and the possibility of addressing the world and the moment directly and earnestly without ironic deflection. This stuff is as real as it gets -- cultural excavation and virtuoso painting on a grand scale.