In Untitled, Joe Bradley’s lively attention to art history comes into play. ‘The entire thing,’ he says, ‘is more exciting if there’s a distinct possibility that you’re going to make an ass of yourself. I’ve always admired the kind of commitment I see in an artist like Agnes Martin. She just honoured this stripe thing to the very end, you know? I don’t think I can work that way, though’ (J. Bradley, quoted in ‘Artists in Conversation: Dike Blair and Joe Bradley,’ in BOMB 108, Summer 2009). The graph paper employed here makes a knowing reference to Martin’s carefully realised minimalist grids, subverting their aura of spiritual focus by substituting her intently hand-drawn lines for a mechanised found object, not born of meditation but lifted straight from a stationery store. Introducing a process-based element, the paper has gently warped with the drying of a schematically painted face, which leers Basquiat-like from a 7 x 11 section of squares: reminiscent of the splashy gouache in Bradley’s abstract work, this visage poses a deliberately awkward challenge to clean minimalism. In its endearingly of-centre way, like Bradley’s robot-shaped arrangements of canvas, it seems to try to assimilate into its machine-drawn surroundings, but the puckering paper and unevenly contained paint betray its incongruity. Bradley is thinking outside the box, and testing its limits. Fired up by a tantalising sense of risk, he becomes an affectionate iconoclast: Untitled is a deceptively simple work, confounding the surface and clashing disparate modes to arresting effect.