Mark Bradford‘s paintings are unique if only for one reason, he doesn’t use paint. Instead he makes his incredible pictures with found paper; permanent-wave endpapers (from hairdressers), foil, scraps of paper and remnants of posters from abandoned lots, telephone poles and fences. He then layers these materials on to the canvas and then paints or sands away the materials, often retracing underlying text to create his wonderful grid like patterns that remind you of a cityscape, a map that traces American culture and the issues of class, race, gender and sexuality – especially life in South Central LA where Bradford works and lives.
His abstractions and decollage techniques unite high art and popular culture, a sort of street art, there is an immediacy about his work, it is of its place and time, and as he says about his work:
Maybe it’s about…tracing the ghost of cities past. It’s the pulling off of a layer and finding another underneath. It’s the…details that point to people saying, ‘We exist; we were here’.
Seeing his work online doesn’t do it justice as they are very large canvases – I’d love to get an opportunity to see them sometime. Second best is his website where you can hear him talk about each painting and his process of working.
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