Mark Bradford. Through Darkest America by Truck and Tank (Bermondsey Street)

Mark Bradford. Through Darkest America by Truck and Tank (Bermondsey Street)

riding the cut vein by mark bradford

Mark Bradford

Riding the Cut Vein, 2013

nodding gunpowder by mark bradford

Mark Bradford

Nodding Gunpowder, 2013

the last telegraph by mark bradford

Mark Bradford

The Last Telegraph, 2013

shoot the coin by mark bradford

Mark Bradford

Shoot the Coin, 2013

biting the book by mark bradford

Mark Bradford

Biting the Book, 2013

receive calls on your cellphone from jail by mark bradford

Mark Bradford

Receive Calls On Your Cellphone From Jail, 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013Saturday, January 12, 2013


London, United Kingdom

White Cube Bermondsey is pleased to present ‘Through Darkest America by Truck and Tank’, a major exhibition of new work by Mark Bradford and his second with the gallery. Using materials found in the urban environ­ment, such as billboard sheets, posters and news print, Bradford’s expansive, multi-layered collaged paintings explore the dynamics of social abstraction, where im­age is fused with context.

The title of the exhibition is drawn from a chapter in the memoir of the former American president Dwight D. Eisenhower in which he relates his experience as a member of the Transcontinental Motor Convoy of 1919. This encounter, coupled with his observations in Germany during the Second World War, led to the adoption of a nationwide highway system in the US in the 1950s. Applying the map of the interstate roads as a point of origin for a number of paintings in the exhi­bition, Bradford deftly combines abstract compositions with topographical points of reference that shift in and out of focus. The creation of the freeways, borne out of military exigency to deploy troops across the country, also arbitrarily ripped through communities, including Bradford’s own in south central Los Angeles. Similarly, ruptures, fractures, incisions and segregations echo throughout the work.

In paintings such as The Last Telegraph (2013), pas­sages of dense and dark colour are cut and sanded to reveal intricate cartographic arteries momentarily suggesting the heat and energy of lava flows. The sur­face of Riding the Cut Vein (2013) is interrupted by an incandescent diagonal fissure, analogous to a natural phenomenon convulsing through a synthetic conurba­tion. Palimpsests of shimmering networks and tribu­taries ripple throughout Shoot the Coin (2013), while in Nodding Gunpowder (2013), monochromatic striations are woven in patterns surging back and forth.

Bradford’s masterful manipulation of materials and techniques, which confound and mesmerise in equal measure, belies the fact that the paintings are com­prised entirely of paper rather than paint. Gestural marks glide across compositions such as Journal Entry (2013) — based on episodes from Eisenhower’s diary — suggesting intuitive expression rather than controlled labour, while in works such as Biting the Book décol­laged sections appear swept aside in spontaneous action.

In 9 x 9 x 9, Bradford has created a site-specific instal­lation Receive Calls from Your Cell Phone in Jail (2013). Based on a merchant poster found in his neighbour­hood, this work focuses on an aspect of the economic and racial demographics of his locale, where social crisis is transformed into commercial opportunity and exploitation. Comprising one hundred and fifty canvases, installed in horizontal and vertical rows from floor to ceiling, each panel bears trace elements of the primary message. Positioning the viewer at the centre of the piece, a panoptic survey of the individual panels conveys an impression of solitary cells within a maxi­mum security prison.

‘Through Darkest America by Truck and Tank’ isaccompanied by a fully illustrated publication, featur­ing a conversation between the artist and Susan May, and a text by Christopher Bedford.

Mark Bradford was born in 1961 in Los Angeles, where he lives and works. He has participated in numerous exhibitions and biennials and has received interna­tional recognition for his work including: the Gwangju Biennale, Korea (2012); Istanbul Biennial (2011); Seoul Biennial (2010); Carnegie International (2008); São Paulo Biennial (2006); and Whitney Biennial (2006). Solo exhibitions include, Aspen Art Museum (2011); ‘Maps and Manifests’, Cincinnati Museum of Art (2008); and ‘Neither New Nor Correct’, WhitneyMuseum of American Art (2007). In 2009 MarkBradford was the recipient of the MacArthurFoundation ‘Genius’ Award. In 2010 ‘You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)’, a large-scale survey of his work was presented at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, before travelling to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Dallas Museum of Art; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.