Propelled into the public sphere by his inclusion in Thelma Golden’s now-storied 2001 exhibition Freestyle, Mark Bradford’s astute eye for political structures and material history has continuously proven him one of the most vital artists working today. His inimitable approach to painting marries popular culture and textual inquiry with a legacy of abstraction that carves a distinct path all its own. “I may pull the raw material from a very specific place, culturally from a particular place, but then I abstract it. I’m only really interested in abstraction; but social abstraction, not just the 1950s abstraction. The painting practice will always be a painting practice but we’re living in a post-studio world, and this has to do with the relationship with things that are going on outside" (M. Bradford, in conversation with S. May, in: Through Darkest America by Truck and Tank, exh. cat., London, White Cube, 2013-14, p. 83).
The artist pulls visually and physically from his surroundings, creating multilayered collages of cut, torn, faded, and otherwise decimated paper strewn with wire, string, and other salvaged materials from around his studio in Los Angeles. Instilling these constructions with conceptual rigor through the use of charged phrases and his own personal ideas about mapping environs, Bradford speaks to a new generation of artists and viewers who are all too aware of the interconnected nature of art, politics, and everyday life.