Mark Bradford: Profile

Mark Bradford, Los Moscos, 2004, mixed media on canvas, 125 x 190 1/2 inches (Ta
Mark Bradford, Los Moscos, 2004, mixed media on canvas, 125 x 190 1/2 inches (Tate collection)

Calvin Tomkins profiles artist Mark Bradford.

Tomkins writes: "Although he hasn’t really used artist’s paints or brushes since he was in art school, what Bradford makes are abstract paintings. He starts with a stretched canvas and builds up its surface with ten or fifteen layers of paper—white paper, colored paper, newsprint, reproductions, photographs, printed texts—fixing each layer with a coat of clear shellac. Sometimes he embeds lengths of string or caulking to form linear elements in the palimpsest. When the buildup reaches a certain density, he attacks it with power sanders and other tools, exposing earlier layers, flashes of color, and unexpected juxtapositions. Not until the first sanding does he begin to see where the painting is going. He works like an archeologist, rediscovering the past."