Executed on an impressive scale, Visible Giant is part of a 2014 series in which Bradford, known for his abstract explorations of the modern metropolis, embarked upon an investigation of contemporary structures of power and politics in Hong Kong, the world’s most densely populated city. Within Bradford’s practice, formal abstraction is deftly weaponized as a means for potent social commentary; in the artist’s own words, “I may pull the raw material from a very specific place, culturally from a particular place, but then I abstract it. I’m only really interested in abstraction; but social abstraction, not just the 1950s abstraction. The painting practice will always be a painting practice but we’re living in a post-studio world, and this has to do with the relationship with things that are going on outside." (The artist cited in Exh. Cat., London, White Cube, Through Darkest America by Truck and Tank, 2013-2014, p. 83) Originating with the architectural floor plans of Hong Kong’s sprawling public housing complexes, Bradford abstracts their formal, grid-like lines by layering and fusing the blueprints with dense swaths of the varied printed material that fills city streets. Through an extraordinary method of collage and décollage, Bradford first combines the found remnants of billboard posters, newsprint, and digitally-printed color sheets, then laboriously excavates and sands away segments to reveal an undulating landscape of labyrinthine grids and shimmering texture below. Within this multidimensional surface, an intricate maze of meandering squares returns the viewer to the artist’s original point of departure; as each small rectangle is divided, subdivided and partitioned into even smaller cage-like units, Bradford highlights the crisis in the lack of affordable living space in modern metropolitan centers. Coursing through this burnished framework, swaths of bright green, yellow and red invoke the characteristics of thermal imaging, subtly referencing the high global and environmental cost of such rampant urban sprawl. Achieving a captivating fusion of such opposing forces as construction and excavation, abstraction and representation, reflection and transformation, Visible Giant firmly encapsulates Bradford’s own description of his unique artistic project: "The conversations I was interested in were about community, fluidity, about a merchant dynamic, and the details that point to a genus of change. The species I use sometimes are racial, sexual, cultural, stereotypical. But the genus I’m always interested in is change." (The artist cited in “Market>Place,” Art21, PBS, November 2011)
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