This series marks a new level of creative development; a bold opening up of style, technique and sensibility in Bradford’s body of work. In his words:
I am employing violent scraping, palette knifing, dabbing, dripping, reducing, tearing apart, cutting through, and building up so the paint overwhelms with something very specific, yet distantly remembered from somewhere else. This process of abstracting and excavating these oft–told American histories simultaneously asserts my formal, absolute control of the surface while allowing me to retreat from the field.
This unbridled exploration can be seen in Publication of the Declaration and Abraham Speaking to the People at Gettysburg with their highly original use of Jean Paul Riopelle-like textured fields of paint deftly applied in a specific narrative context as means of capturing the deeply complex, often conflicting interactions in the psychology of a crowd. The sheer plasticity and expressionist aggression of Bradford’s negative spaces create “significant narrative gestures” throughout the pictorial surface to celebrate something entirely new: field painting of history.
The repertoire of techniques employed in these various historical paintings encompasses virtually the entire modernist lexicon and testifies to a painting life of unrelenting experimentation and invention. The magic is that a wide range of subjects, treated in surprisingly different ways, is so clearly the vision of a singular sensibility still committed to finding relevancy in our so tenuously shared national narrative.