my make believe collection 19 :: mark bradford

mark bradford, scorched earth, 2006, billboard paper, photochemical reproductions, acrylic gel medium, carbon paper, acrylic paint, bleach and other mixed media on canvas, 94.5 x 118 inches

i went last week to catch the mark bradford show at SFMOMA right before it came down. i had seen one or 2 pieces in person, and i had watched the art21 segment on him - and was intrigued. i sort of had high expectations and was thinking that they might not be fulfilled if i saw a full retrospective of the work he's made thus far. but hip hip hooray ! i wasn't disappointed at all ... in fact i was impressed and moved.

Mark Bradford, Strawberry, 2002; photomechanical reproductions, acrylic gel medium, permanent-wave end papers, and additional mixed media on canvas; 72 x 84 inches
the exhibition opened with works that utilized permanent wave end papers, a material that he grew up around in his mother's hairdressing shop in south central LA. that space is now his studio. a younger bradford painted signs and styled hair there. these end papers and the way he sets up these canvases immediately call to mind minimalism and grid structures, but the materials immediately invoke another layer of meaning.

Mark Bradford, Smokey, 2003; billboard paper, photomechanical reproductions, acrylic gel medium, permanent-wave end papers, and additional mixed media on canvas; 60 x 72 inches
i'm of course drawn to these inherently feminine materials used in such a massive way. this is minimalism of the city. it's gritty and raw. these surfaces have been worked ! the base of them is paper from billboards. the titles and the method of creation connote a backstory and leave you with a sense of place - an urban-ness.

mark bradford, bread and circuses,  2007. Mixed-media collage on canvas, 133 × 253 in. 
as he developed his techniques [which involve a lot of painting, re-paining, sanding, peeling, layering] the paintings start to have more of a map feel to them. i'm a fan of mapping in multiple ways so this appeals to me as well. many of his lines are generated using caulk and string. [peeling them up, or painting over them]. they are crumbling in destruction and yet also being constructed at the same time [like so many of our urban centers]. they are large. overbearing, but in a good way.

mark bradford, orbit, 2007,  mixed media collage, 72×84 inches.
they are complex. containing elements that reference gender, race, class structures and struggles. he also references history and events [including a post-katrina new orleans]. mark bradford is tall. people often think he should be a basketball player, but no. he's an artist. some of his work references basketball, and the fact that many african american celebrities are known for either music or sports. it is interesting to compare these to say someone like kerry james marshall. some similar  [and highly personal] thematic structures, but entirely different modes of creation.

mark bradford, Untitled, 2007, mixed media collage, 19×22 inches.
he also take advertisements taken from inner city fences like this:

[that's him by the way] and repaints them. collaging several together and highlighting text that is poignent - and sometimes incredibly funny.

 mark bradford, Red Painting, 2009. Mixed media collage on canvas, 258.4 x 364.5 cm.
some of his newer works have become even more abstract. fracturing - almost looking like broken glass. i think if nothing else you have to admire the work that goes into these. you can physically see and sense the work. the stretch. and i admire his ability to make and keep painting a relevant tool for an artist in the 21st century.

you can learn more about him on several sites including this great site. or on sikkima jenkins & co. so which is for me? i'm definitely drawn to the first one [with that expanse of orange] or orbit [with the amazing tight grid - so dark with hints of colors peeking out. yes so good.] but i think i might have to go with this:

mark bradford,  2003, mixed media on canvas, 72 x 84
i'm a sucker for the delicacy of this palette [yes i know it matches other things in this make believe collection - so i guess i REALLY like this palette]. i'm also a sucker for those endpapers. i just inherently like the usage of them as a material on this grand of a scale... so there you have it...

keep track of my collection as it grows on pinterest. till next time... hope you find some art you want to bring home with you !

Jan Halvarson


The Framed Lady said...

I'm in LOVE with these. They're in my pretend collection, too.
Tess @ The Framed Lady

Zahra123 said...

These are amazing! I love things like these which are quite abstract and full of texture! Lovely :)

Trashsparkle said...

Love these - would love to see them in real life. Thanks for showing them. x

lisa solomon said...

so glad to see the mark bradford love.

trashsparkle - if you get the chance you should see them in person. they are amazing.

Kathryn said...

I LOVED that show! The end papers were my favorite pieces. Shoot, I didn't realize it was down already, I wanted to take my daughter to see it, talk about impressionable artwork! See you tomorrow, Lisa!

lisa solomon said...

kathryn - of COURSE you did. i loved those too. just so beautiful in a simple and very meaningful way...
thanks for having us today !!