Mark Bradford: That’s not gonna happen

On refusing to be an object, the vulnerablity of the margin and representing America after Trump

By Jonathan Griffin

Mark Bradford in his studio, Los Angeles, 2017. Photo: Joshua Anderson Rebuild South Central, 2015, mixed media on canvas,109 × 244 cm. © the artist. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth, London & Los Angeles Mithra, 2008, plywood, shipping containers, steel, 2134 × 610 × 762 cm. © the artist. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth, London & Los Angeles Rio Terà dei Pensieri Social Cooperative participant working in the kiosk at Campo S. Stefano, Venice, July 2016. Photo: Agata Gravante Art + Practice exterior, Los Angeles, 2017. Photo: Natalie Hon. Courtesy Art + Practice, Los Angeles Black Venus, 2005, mixed-media collage, 330 × 498 cm. Photo: Jason Dewey. © the artist. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth, London & Los Angeles Sample 3, 2015, mixed media on canvas, 161 × 123 cm. © the artist. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth, London & Los Angeles Practice (video stills), 2003, single-channel video, 3 min, colour, sound. © the artist. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth, London & Los Angeles Practice (video stills), 2003, single-channel video, 3 min, colour, sound. © the artist. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth, London & Los Angeles

It was a stupid question anyway. Something about having success and opportunity and yet continuing to experiment, still taking risks. Though he has made sculptures, videos and site-specific installations, Mark Bradford was first celebrated, early in his career, for his panoramic, expressively exhausted collage-paintings made from sanded strata of coloured paper, which were almost always understood as reflecting the gritty streetscape of South Central Los Angeles. A long Los Angeles Times profile from 2006, a decade after he graduated from…

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