Exhibition Reviews: Mark Bradford

Mark Bradford – White Cube



In this exhibition, Mark Bradford’s work is presented within three gallery spaces.  In the first gallery we are presented with an open space displaying three large pieces of work. A lot of the work resembles giant worn out billboard posters. Some canvases also resemble that of a bird’s eye view and some like large fingerprints. A mix of colours has been used, some very dark with slight colour and others very vibrant. The quadruplet piece ‘Journal Entry #1-4’ had quite a strong presence presenting four panels of mixed media on canvas.

In the second space we are presented with a smaller cube like space in which Bradford has created a site-specific installation. There are 150 positioned in horizontal and vertical rows from floor to ceiling. When standing in the middle of the room and looking all the way round at all four walls, there’s something captivating about it and it’s hard to believe how many canvases are displayed; the positioning of them were intended to convey the impression of prison cells with a high security prison. All the canvases display the same monochrome print, based on a found commercial poster, which seems to be deconstructed and defaced in a different way on each one.


The third space being the largest displays large pieces, which give off a strong presence within the space. Similar to the first gallery space, the work resembles worn out billboards with use of a mix of colours, some looking like road maps etc.

Bradford’s named his exhibition ‘Through Darkest America by Truck and Tank’ as he drew it from a chapter in the memoir of the former American president Dwight D. Eisenhower where he relates his experiences as a member of the Transcontinental Motor Convoy of 1919. This meeting along with his observations during the Second World War adoption led to the creation of the highway system in America in 1950. By applying the map of the interstate roads in his paintings, Bradford combines abstract structures with geographical references that come in and out of focus. Many of his paintings are based on something specific he may have found, experienced or wanted to explore which is quite interesting as they all link together.

I find that aesthetically Bradford’s work has some resemblance to Gerhard Richter’s large, abstract paintings in which he uses an array of colours and squeegee paintings.

The way the work is presented is in large spaces, which allows the audience to really take in the work and its large scale. Being presented in a space like this allows the audience to engage fully with the work being able to view from a far or up close, seeing the textures and details. At first glace the scale of the work is quite overwhelming however when viewing the pieces they are quite mesmerizing.

From looking at this exhibition I am quite inspired and I would like to apply this to my own work by exploring working on a large scale, with potential to work on canvases and use layering to create texture and patterns. I like the element of defacing and deconstructing like layering and sanding down to create very different effects and textures.

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