Mark Bradford, Monoprints, June 5-July 10, 2004, at Cirrus Gallery, Cirrus Gallery, 542 S. Alameda Street, Los Angeles, Ca. 90013
The artist Mark Bradford, whose majestic new monoprints are currently on view at Cirrus Gallery, moonlights as a hairdresser. Inspired, instead of stifled, by his day job, he has taken the image of the type of hair salon seen on numerous street corners in and around South Central LA, and turned it slightly off center, so that it resembles Dorothys fated and falling abode in The Wizard of OZ. Though the structure, so common in African-American communities, may not be recognizable to everyone, Bradfords main concern is not with the image, as much as with his materials and the luminous sense of deep space silk-screen can create.
In Untitled #36, the salon floats in the center, atop a receding red background. The image is simple and unadorned, like many of the works in this show it is completely unpretentious. Bradford approaches printmaking by utilizing painting and collage techniques so his prints are layered with end papers used in hair styling, and rubber stamps.
Working with an earlier series of monoprints at Cirrus as his base, Bradford layered more and more images atop each other, hand painting each individually and then silk-screening the uniform hair salon on-top of it all as the final imagistic layer. By doing this he managed to create a sense of distance and fluidity within his limited space. Bradfords work is warm and oddly tender. His depictions of the hair salon suggest an uncanny attentiveness to a public space and a desire to make it personal. All his obvious effort resonates with love for this commercial space, which is often taken for granted. In his images, the hair salon, with all its downtrodden and mundane connotations becomes an intriguingly ambiguous place, a sort of alternate home or place to be in both body and soul.
EVE WOOD's new book of poetry, Love's Funeral, is forthcoming from Cherry Grove Collections at the University of Cincinnati.