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Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The sensually delicious art of Las Vegas artist Marshall Bradford @ Sin City Gallery

By Dr. Laura Henkel,

The art of Las Vegas artist Marshall Bradford is alternately alluring, shocking, deeply suggestive and subversive. Bradford’s work has a magnetic power. Decadent and masterfully staged photographs belong to the narrative pictorial language of cinema, the contrast of skin, rope, cloth, and light making for an orchestrated mise-en-scène.

Bradford’s masterly admixture of haute couture photography and sexuality is the thrill of the illicit paired with an admiration and hunger for so much splendor. This engenders an irrepressible desire to see more, provoking an admiration and hunger for so many splendors. Bradford’s exhibition, Desert Bound, at Sin City gallery includes twenty photographs that offers a unique view into the artistic oeuvre of this esteemed photographer.

The works are all brilliantly composed and have a cinematic quality. Many of the images are connected to archetype of the vamp, the femme fatal so often seen in fashion, film, theater and art. While an undisputed sexiness is present in all the works, Bradford’s mastery over his medium is the cornerstone of his work. In works like Ecstasy at Mojave Lake, taken outdoors, Bradford combines the thoughtful and clean use of light, magnification, focus, reflection of texture, and a sensual game of veiling, and exposure, creating a series of works that have at their core, a sense of theatric.

Bradford’s stunning photos are part of the colliding worlds of fashion and sexuality, and as such are part of the tradition of the great fashion photographer Helmut Newton, in the sense that Bradford builds on Newton’s precepts for a new vision and constructs stylish, posed and iconic pictures of bondage, sexual subjection and fantasy. Bradford is fully engaged with the provocative image of a beautiful woman, her accessories and props highlighting her sexuality, her power, or the power of the voyeur over her, something Newton was unabashed about, this pleasure of looking, this need for beauty, and sexual experience.

Bradford’s black and white work Sex and the Maiden, is a supple photo of a nude, classical illuminated, her arched body resembling the tradition of a figurehead or wooden lady at the stern of a boat. The pattern of the ropes are like ornate carving, and scrollwork, and function as a fetishistic form of clothing. These are exquisitely constructed spectacles, at times purely about lust, and at other times, more complex and fetishistic. For example in many works, there is an intrusion of the strange. The picture Beautiful Monster I (from the Genki Series) shows a voluptuously lovely nude with a squid, in her mouth, a portrait of submission. In Beautiful Monster II, the creature is worn as a boa, an outlandish marriage of aquatic monsters, food, and sensuality provokes questions about taste, fetish and power.

More than a collection of images from a sexual subculture, Bradford’s work meets at intersection of erotica, burlesque and performance art and as such is multifaceted, masterly and unerring beautiful. The artist’s ability to engage in contemporary leitmotifs, and transform his images of sex into distinctive portrayals of explosive beauty makes his work stand apart.

Desert Bound will be on exhibition from February 2 to March 22, 2015. There will be a closing Artist Talk with Marshall Bradford at Cockroach Theater on March 22, 2015 at 2:00 PM.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Sin City Gallery and The Las Vegas Rope Social will be hosting Rope 101 Classes throughout February and March. If you are new to rope and would like to learn about the types of rope, safety, negotiation and a few ties, come join these instructional workshops.

Tuesday, February 10 7:30 - 9:30 PM
Tuesday, February 24 7:30 - 9:30 PM
Saturday, March 7 3:00 - 5:00 PM
Saturday, March 14 3:00 - 5:00 PM

Classes will be donation based $5-$20. The exhibition at Sin City Gallery is free.

Sin City Gallery is located off the Strip in the famous Arts Factory, situated in the heart of Downtown Las Vegas’ Arts District, at 107 E. Charleston Boulevard, Suite 100. Hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 1:00 to 7:00 p.m. For information, updates and exhibition calendar, call 702-608-2461 or visit www.sincitygallery.com.

The art of Marshall Bradford @ Sin City Gallery

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