Mark Bradford’s artwork represents a new type of ‘painting’, except he doesn’t paint on it, but uses found, vernacular material from the streets that he glues onto the canvas forming a pattern and then proceeds to rip, tear, scrub, paint over it; this collage/decollage process introduces a layer of abstraction into the vernacular material which are typically signs that depict the current state of our existence. From advertisements for jobs to sneakers, call-girls to legal services, the vernacular that is displayed ‘subliminally’ speaks to the underlying issues he chooses to address.
Incidently this process was derived from his time working at his mothers hair salon before and even after graduation from art school; of using pieces of paper to wrap people’s hair, soaking them with color, heating, splicing them and working out mistakes on-the-fly, was a period of soul searching and fundamental to the development of his artistic technique.
The earlier period works (2000-2004) seem to focus on abstraction by freezing time, a linear ana-cubic world view reminiscent of the pioneering time lapse photography studies that were done in the late 19th century to analyze motion and pave the way for the birth of cinematography. Yet an element of parody is still incorporated, as seen in Enter And Exit The New Negro (2000) which consists of lines of transparent square outlines against an all white background; which seems to suggest the black male in the new millenium is trying so hard to be white, that he’s become lost, irrelevant.