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Aspen Art Museum


Mark Bradford

Feb 12, 2010-Apr 4, 2010

Mark Bradford is best known for his large-scale non-representational paintings that address the grid, but by continually more abstract means. His process is one of addition as well as removal—layering paint, twine, and glue, and then repeatedly sanding down the surfaces. His palette reflects the use of pre-existing printed materials and, as such, black and white figure prominently.

Bradford’s paintings succeed in their ability to overwhelm the viewer visually. The remnants buried below the surface evoke objects hidden for use at a later date, as well as the bulges and bruises resulting from past physical injury. The paintings reward distant viewing as well as close inspection, and while attempts to track a linear narrative along or across the surface are thwarted, the minute a discovery is made, it more than satisfies our visual, emotional, and psychological curiosity.

Bradford’s Aspen Art Museum exhibition focused on his “Merchant Posters” works, not previously considered in isolation. These “Merchant Posters” are largely created from community-oriented billboards, advertising posters, and signs he removed from chain link fences erected in his Leimert Park, Los Angeles neighborhood. Shadows—or memories—of their former utilitarian purposes remain: “Freedom Without Love,” “Promise Land Sober Living,” “Stop Evictions.” The seduction of, and subsequent yearning for, these objects is palpable. The urges and desires originally communicated subtly highlight that art—and Bradford’s works on paper in particular—fill similarly essential, albeit highly different, needs.

On the occasion of Bradford’s AAM exhibition, a fully illustrated catalogue was copublished by Aspen Art Press and Gregory R. Miller & Co., featuring essays by Heidi Zuckerman, Los Angeles–based artist and writer Malik Gaines, Los Angeles–based cultural critic Ernest Hardy, and Dia Art Foundation Director Philippe Vergne.

Mark Bradford was organized by the Aspen Art Museum, funded in part by the AAM National Council, with major underwriting support from Susan and Larry Marx and additional support provided by Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond Learsy, and June and Paul Schorr. General exhibition support provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Generous publication support provided by Toby Devan Lewis. Exhibition lectures were presented by the Questrom Lecture Series.