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Mark Bradford Featured in First Museum Survey at Wexner Center
Scorched Earth, 2006. Billboard paper, photomechanical reproductions, acrylic gel medium, carbon paper, acrylic paint, bleach, and additional mixed media on canvas, 94 1/2 x 118 inches. Collection of Dennis and Debra Scholl. Photo: Bruce M. White.
COLUMBUS, OH.- The Wexner Center premiered its exhibition Mark Bradford, the first museum survey devoted to the work of the Los Angeles–based artist, one of the leading figures in contemporary art, from May 8 to August 15, 2010. Organized by Wexner Center curator Christopher Bedford, the exhibition features more than 50 works in a variety of media spanning the years 2000–2010. Following its presentation in Columbus, the show will travel to four major venues in the U.S.

A 2009 MacArthur Foundation “genius” award recipient, Bradford (b. 1961) is best-known for large-scale abstract paintings made from a variety of collaged materials, including billboard paper, permanent-wave end papers, newsprint, carbon paper, and other papers layered together (or stripped apart) and then manipulated with nylon string, caulking, and sanding. Often incorporating references to the social conditions of a particular location, these works not only extend the possibilities of contemporary painting, they offer an unusual and highly individual examination of the economies (often defined by race, gender, and class) that structure urban society in the United States, and specifically in Leimert Park, the South Central Los Angeles neighborhood where the artist works.

In addition to providing a comprehensive account of Bradford’s career to date with an emphasis on his work as a painter, the show foregrounds new works created under the auspices of a Wexner Center Residency Award in Visual Arts. Among these new works is an environmental installation with sound entitled Pinocchio Is On Fire, which examines key moments in the history of the black community in Los Angeles from the early 1980s to the present (with cultural references that include the rise of HIV and crack cocaine during the 1980s, gangster rap, and mega-churches, along with aspects of the artist’s own biography). In addition, Bradford created two new works related to Mithra, his monumental, ark-like public art project installed in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans for the Prospect.1 exhibition in 2008: a major new sculpture (titled Detail), which incorporates elements from Mithra, and a film titled Across Canal, which examines the conception, production, and reception of that work. Also commissioned for this show are an ambitious suite of new paintings and four new “graphite drawings.”

Notes Christopher Bedford, the exhibition’s curator, “We’re pleased to have been able to support the production of so much ambitious new work for this survey exhibition. In Mark’s case specifically, placing heavy emphasis on the new in the context of an exhibition that also looks back at his work over the last 10 years is extremely important. It’s also the most accurate way to capture the emphasis he himself places on pushing his practice forward each time he enters the studio.”

Wexner Center Director Sherri Geldin says, “Mark Bradford is among the most compelling and captivating artists working today. In precisely calibrated juxtapositions of message and medium, accretion and displacement, his work reveals time and again that the tensions between abstraction and representation continue to push the very possibilities of contemporary painting.”

Following its Wexner Center debut, this exhibition will tour to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston (November 19, 2010–March 13, 2011), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (June–September 2011), the Dallas Museum of Art (October 16, 2011–January 15, 2012), and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (February 18–May 20, 2012).

The Wexner Center | Mark Bradford | Christopher Bedford | Sherri Geldin |


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