Sikkema Jenkins & Co
530 West 22nd Street
January 17–February 23
A former hairdresser from Los Angeles, Mark Bradford seems to be causing considerable stir. His work resembles much worked over advertising surfaces one finds in subways and in out of the way urban spaces. The kind of space worked over by bored teenagers, smoothing foil from cigarette packages, then thumbing circles, lines, exposing layers of others markings. But there is more to the gesture. From a distance these surfaces resemble "aerial views of contorting, mutating, and decaying cities whose tiny, intricate street grids can no longer maintain their structural integrity against unknown, epic forces (overcrowding, corruption, disease?)."
A little closer....
Making use of materials at hand is always admirable as far as the Hound is concerned. In Bradford's case he takes signage as signs of wonder and turns them back on the communities they come from in deliciously scrambled forms. The idea of scratching the surface, of unearthing heroines--black superheros on this case--is also a powerful force. In his own words Bradford says "I think if Rauschenberg were pulling from the streets now, he and I would be fighting for the billboards."
We're up to our ears in materiality, in text and images...and what can we do with it? How to make sense of the barrage? How to find indeterminate spaces, to poke at the ideology that so quickly moves into advertising bites...to imagery that imposes. Playfulness might be the necessary ingredient of the 21st century.
Bradford is having a lot of fun reinventing images of African American's. There was an artist who used macaroni as hair...and last year Mickaline Thomas took a look at "prime time images" of African American women. But check out the video "Practice" on this NPR site where we see a man trying to play basketball in an antebellum hoop skirt...
Oddly enough Erin Moure sent along a link to a piece in th NY Times about a rather unusual little gallery in Chelsea.
But NYC is full of art, every bit of space...here is a series of photos the Hound took of subway eyes...
Paintings by Mickaline Thomas
More from Thomas here.
And for some reason, Mark Bradford got me thinking about flarf...post on that soon.