Mark Bradford

3 min read

Publisher: Phaidon
Publication date: 2018
Pages: 160

Price: $29.95
Canvas rating: ****

Part of Phaidon’s Contemporary Artist series, this edition presents a thoughtful study on the work of abstract painter Mark Bradford who notably represented the US pavilion at the Venice Biennale of 2017.

The Los Angeles: based artist has become known for his use of found Posters and scraps of paper, layering and transforming them to mixed media pieces that explore ideas of face, class, gender, and myth. In the book, art critic Sebastian Smee places Bradford’s work in the context of his environment, including the rise of crack cocaine during the 1980s, the spread of HIV/AIDS, the Rodney King riots, and the 2008 financial crisis. Smee rightly ‘emphasizes that Bradford’s socio-political commentary has its limits when it comes to changing the status quo. This is something the artist also acknowledges, ‘and we learn more about his efforts outside of art to Provide support to youth communities struggling with incarceration, homelessness, and unemployment through the initiative Art + Practice. There’s also a very enlightening and enjoyable conversation between ‘Anita Hill and Bradford, where the artist talks about working at his mother’s beauty salon, how it not only taught him about texture and color but also helped him understand the power of community. The two have an incredibly candid conversation that flows so naturally, it paints a moving picture of Bradford’s personality — for Instance when Hil asks him about staying true to his art in the midst of challenges and victories, the artist responds, “I’m still the same boy walking the earth with the same wonderment and the same heartache and the same… Honey, | wear it on my sleeve. was the that at seven This book allows readers to understand Bradford as an artist who took control of his narrative as a gay black man in America and forged his unique practice without compromise. The result is the cultivation of a deeper appreciation of the nature of his work, which treads language and material to create an altogether ‘new thing — both sharply political and aesthetically rich.

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