Michno writes: "Bradford's interest in power structures, emergent when he was at CalArts, has continued to inform his painting, and how he conceptualizes his work. He has always been fascinated by the purity that is attributed to paint and that collage is considered lower than painting in the spectrum of media. "I was building a political framework in my head of how I wanted to engage, and what materials could push that. That is why I demand that they're called paintings," he says about his large-scale paper-on-canvas works. 'That is why people get unfurled when I call them paintings. That is why the purists stand up and say, 'There is no paint.' ' Bradford also notes the lack of African-American men and the lack of women throughout the history of painting. Finally, he points to the question of space. 'Certain white men are allowed to be size-queens; they have big paintings, they can take up big spaces. It was about who was allowed to take up space, and who was allowed to not take up space. So I think for me, all this framework came out of being at CalArts and observing ideological frameworks and my relationship to them.' "
Thomas Micchelli blogs about the paintings of Mark Bradford, on view at Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York through December 22, 2012.
Driven to see the exhibition by a suggestion in the New York Times that Bradford may be "the best painter working in America today," Micchelli concludes that "credible case can be made" for the assertion. In Bradford's paintings, Micchelli writes, the "surfaces - accreted through improvisation and accident – are dense with the authority of their own thing-ness, resolving themselves around the colors, textures and shapes inherent in their materials... Beyond their formal inventiveness, there is another, more speculative reason why Bradford’s work has yet to get old. Curiously, it is not dissimilar to the way Mantegna would paint a Tuscan village in the hills rising behind the Crucifixion. By abstracting the stuff of everyday life - rather than treating as an object of irony or ridicule - Bradford is in a very real sense exalting it. Like Mantegna, he is folding his own time into a sacred space."
Deborah Barlow looks at Mark Bradford's exhibition at the ICA in Boston. Bradford's work can be seen through "many lenses—political, sociological, race-based, gender, abstraction, counter trends, arte povera, inner city aesthetics... maybe this is a show that needs several viewings to appreciate the density of meaning and form that Bradford is pursuing."
Max Weintraub reviews the exhibition Mark Bradford at Sikkema Jenkins Co., New York, on view through December 22, 2012.
Weintraub writes that "Mark Bradford’s monumental new work, currently on view at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. in New York, continues the artist’s almost single-handed revival of contemporary abstraction from its doldrums, and affirms to my mind that progressive abstract painting indeed still has much to offer. ... As he translates the rhythms of the urban landscape into increasingly abstract terms, without ever fully abandoning a figurative impulse, Bradford deftly operates at the intersection of abstraction and representation like few before him. His spectacular frenzies of color and form become visual analogues of the very urban landscape from which he scavenged his materials—poetic visual kaleidoscopes of the communities and underground economies to which Bradford’s inherently referential source material gestures, and the volatile emotional admixture of desires, concerns and vitality that make up the complex socio-economic layers of Bradford’s worlds."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.