Mark Bradford: Paint, Paper, Politics

Mark Bradford, Habitual, 2009, 60 x 72 inches (152.4 x 182.9 cm) mixed media col
Mark Bradford, Habitual, 2009, 60 x 72 inches (152.4 x 182.9 cm) mixed media collage on canvas (courtesy of White Cube)

Christopher Michno profiles painter Mark Bradford.

Michno writes: "Bradford's interest in power structures, emergent when he was at CalArts, has continued to inform his painting, and how he conceptualizes his work. He has always been fascinated by the purity that is attributed to paint and that collage is considered lower than painting in the spectrum of media. "I was building a political framework in my head of how I wanted to engage, and what materials could push that. That is why I demand that they're called paintings," he says about his large-scale paper-on-canvas works. 'That is why people get unfurled when I call them paintings. That is why the purists stand up and say, 'There is no paint.' ' Bradford also notes the lack of African-American men and the lack of women throughout the history of painting. Finally, he points to the question of space. 'Certain white men are allowed to be size-queens; they have big paintings, they can take up big spaces. It was about who was allowed to take up space, and who was allowed to not take up space. So I think for me, all this framework came out of being at CalArts and observing ideological frameworks and my relationship to them.' "