mark bradford opens solo exhibition in new york at hauser + wirth

mark bradford opens solo exhibition in new york at hauser + wirth

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‘you don’t have to tell me twice’ at hauser & wirth

 

Now open at Hauser & Wirth‘s New York gallery, an exhibition titled ‘You Don’t Have to Tell Me Twice’ showcases the works of renowned artist Mark Bradford. The gallery notes that the show sees the artist embark upon ‘a deeply personal exploration of the multifaceted nature of displacement and the predatory forces that feed on populations driven into motion by crisis.’ While known for his style of ‘social abstraction,’ Bradford focuses on figures, including his own, with sweeping new works depicting flora and fauna, predators and prey, move within dreamlike, abstracted landscapes. The exhibition will be on view at Hauser & Wirth’s New York gallery from April 13th — July 28th, 2023.

 

I packed it up to escape, to save myself, and there he is again, ‘Johnny buys houses.’ Johnny was AIDS. Johnny was the KKK. Johnny was God, the preacher in the pulpit telling me I was sinful.’ — Mark Bradford

mark bradford opens solo exhibition in new york at hauser + wirthexhibition view, ‘Johnny the Jaguar’ (2023), ‘Manifest Destiny’ (2023)

image © Mark Bradford, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 

 

‘johnny buys houses’ exploring predatory displacement

 

A major theme of Mark Bradford’s work results from an exploration of the shifting economics of inflated loans and housing prices, a reality which had resulted in the ‘merchant posters’ found on telephone poles. ‘What’s really interesting in South Central, you see all these signs saying ‘I Buy Houses,’ ‘We Buy Houses,’ the artist explains.That’s all you see on every telephone pole. It probably has something to do with the shifting economics of inflated loans. And then it was ‘Johnny Buys Houses.’ And I’m like: ‘oh — Johnny?’ He personalized it now!

 

This ‘Johnny’ has become a ghost, a boogeyman that haunts the show, and incorporates this theme throughout the three floors of the exhibition. Bradford also reflects on the changing landscape of advertising, as billboards give way to digital mediums. ‘Manifest Destiny’ (2023), which greets visitors on the gallery’s first floor, takes shape with repurposed billboard paper, a material that is quickly becoming a rarity. Titled after a phrase coined in 1845 that symbolizes the belief in America’s divine destiny to expand and propagate democracy and capitalism throughout North America, ‘Manifest Destiny’ establishes historical connections between this present-day economic exploitation and the justifications used by early settlers to colonize the Americas.

mark bradford opens solo exhibition in new york at hauser + wirth‘Fire Fire’ (2021), image © Mark Bradford, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 

 

mark bradford’s jaguar – the american predator

 

On the first floor of the exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, viewers will encounter a series of recent paintings by Mark Bradford that draw from the history of European tapestry and its socio-political significance, reflecting the opulence and power associated with European aristocracy.

 

Additionally, Bradford presents new paintings on the same floor that resemble tapestries, depicting plant and animal species that are native to the area surrounding ‘Blackdom,’ an African American settlement established in the New Mexico desert in the early 20th century as a refuge from the Jim Crow South. The focal point of these monumental paintings is the jaguar, the apex predator of the Chihuahan desert and the only member of the Panthera genus native to the Americas. Bradford playfully nicknames this symbolic antagonist of the exhibition ‘Johnny the Jaguar,’ as it represents various forms of historical predation explored throughout the exhibition, adding a rich layer of meaning to his artworks.

mark bradford hauser wirth
‘Johnny the Jaguar’ (2023), image © Mark Bradford, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 

 

A series of monumental canvases are showcased, including Mark Bradford’s painting titled ‘You Don’t Have to Tell Me Twice’ (2023), the namesake of the Hauser & Wirth exhibition. These artworks are part of the artist’s ongoing investigation of the Great Migration of African Americans from the South, which is considered one of the largest movements of people in the history of the United States.

 

Drawing inspiration from a chart depicting travel distances between railroad centers in the 1920s, Bradford uses oxidized paper and caulk to create gridded numbers and city names, forming a parallel landscape of the continental United States. In these works, Bradford’s vibrant palette of tapestry paintings is replaced with more subdued tones of stained canvas and oxidized paper in soft grays, tans, and whites, evoking a sense of urgency and upheaval in the face of catastrophe.

mark bradford hauser wirth
Mark Bradford with ‘Fire Fire’ (2021) | image © designboom

 

 

Strategically located in different areas within the Hauser & Wirth gallery space, two self-portraits serve as narrative anchors, reflecting the Mark Bradford’s deep-seated awareness of his own body and its vulnerability. In ‘Death Drop, 1973’ (1973), a scene extracted from a Super 8 film that Bradford directed at the age of twelve, he portrays himself falling as if struck by a bullet, the slow-motion loop of which is displayed on the second floor of the gallery. On the third floor, ‘Death Drop, 2023’ (2023) takes the form of a larger-than-life sculpture depicting the artist’s body in the iconic ‘death drop’ pose known from gay ballroom culture.

 

Describing ‘Death Drop 2023,’ Bradford says:I wanted to do a sculpture that is performative, but it’s about persecution as well. That’s why this sculpture has a puffer jacket — he’s outside. It’s not in a space of protection, which would be the club.’

mark bradford opens solo exhibition in new york at hauser + wirth
‘You Don’t Have to Tell Me Twice’ (2023), image © Mark Bradford, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 

 

In collaboration with Culture for One, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of foster care youth in New York City through arts opportunities, Hauser & Wirth and Mark Bradford have developed a learning program to accompany the exhibition. This program will engage young people aged 18-24 from the foster care system, who will work directly with Bradford to create a framework for a series of public engagement events. Through this process, participants will develop confidence and acquire new skills as they lead guided visits of the exhibition, exploring themes of belonging, home, displacement, and migration that are prevalent in Bradford’s artwork.

 

Additionally, Hauser & Wirth has partnered with StoryCorps Studios to create a welcoming space where local residents can come together and record authentic stories related to these themes in conversations with students, neighbors, friends, and family. More information about these recording sessions will be provided at a later date.

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Mark Bradford with ‘Two Faced’ (2023) | image © designboom

mark bradford opens solo exhibition in new york at hauser + wirth
Mark Bradford with ‘Death Drop 1973’ (1973) | image © designboom

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‘Death Drop 2023’ (2023), Mark Bradford | image © designboom

 

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'Fire Fire' (2021), detail | image © Mark Bradford, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth
'Fire Fire' (2021), detail | image © Mark Bradford, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth
'Go Down, Moses' (2023), detail | image © designboom
'Go Down, Moses' (2023), detail | image © designboom
'Manifest Destiny' (2023), detail | image © Mark Bradford, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth
'Manifest Destiny' (2023), detail | image © Mark Bradford, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth
'Where Lee Goodwin was Jailed & Lynched' (2023), detail | image © Mark Bradford, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth
'Where Lee Goodwin was Jailed & Lynched' (2023), detail | image © Mark Bradford, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

project info:

 

exhibition title: You Don’t Have To Tell Me Twice

artist: Mark Bradford

gallery: Hauser & Wirth @hauserwirth

location: New York, NY

on view: April 13th — July 28th, 2023

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