Mark Bradford is an African American artist from Los Angeles, born in 1961. His works are historical and political, and he generally works in massive paintings/collages made from collected printed matter from the streets. His work strikes a balance between microscopic and macroscopic. The canvases are turned into what appear to be birds-eye views of big chaotic cityscapes, but when you approach them close-up you’ll see that imagery from newspapers and magazines have been used.
His piece, Kingdom Day, commemorates the ideals of the annual parade, called Kingdom Day, in Los Angeles in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., yet he uses publications that were printed about the beating of Rodney King, which took place in the same location as the start of the parade.
Kingdom Day detail
Categorized as a history painter, Bradford’s work is often compared to that of Gerhardt Richter, however there is an important, quite oppositional, concept behind Bradford’s work that departs from Richters; instead of addressing a historical subject and creating from it an emblematic image from that one isolated source, Bradford amasses physical representations of the layered complexities of a certain subject and then condenses them into one image.
He once described his work saying, “in a lot of my work, I try to lay social information on top of the modernist grid, and shake them up to produce a hybrid image of the two.”
I really appreciate Bradford’s work for the amount of risk he takes and the boldness with which he mixed media and method to produce such dense imagery.