Mark Bradford - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Sunday, June 26, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
    Phillips, New York, Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 15 May 2014, lot 15
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, Sikkema Jenkins & Co., Mark Bradford: Nobody Jones, 17 January-23 February 2008
    Aspen, Aspen Art Museum, Mark Bradford, 11 February-4 April 2010

  • Literature

    Mark Bradford Merchant Posters, exh. cat., Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, 2010, n.p. (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    'I don’t collect all posters. I generally collect merchant posters because merchant posters talk about a service, and the service talks about a body, and that body talks about a community, and that community talks about many different conversations. So they’re very different. I scan when I’m walking, I don’t take every poster.' (Mark Bradford as quoted in C. Avendano, 'Merchant Portraits' 2005,

    Mark Bradford’s The Father’s "No" is a work from 2007 made of up of six parts. Each part is derived from posters stripped from the streets of Los Angeles. Here, uniformity is balanced with diversity: a hotline for fathers to gain custody or visitation rights for their children is displayed on all of them, but the hue and texture with which this hotline is represented varies from one piece to the next. The text itself - ‘Fathers, do you want child custody • divorce • visitation. 866 -72, Daddy’ - has been torn, abused, and scoured; suggesting high emotional states at tragicomic odds with the profit-focused motivation behind its indifferent target-marketing. Its use of the word ‘Daddy’ tinges the pieces with an implacable sadness; here is an America in which guilt and loneliness are unashamedly transmuted into variables for lucrative financial strategies; an America so hostile and so hard that the cynicism of this is hidden only by its ubiquity.

    Bradford’s process involves the collection of ads, employment notices, merchant posters, maps, and billboards from around Los Angeles and specifically Leimert Park. Bradford grew up in the area; his mother ran a hair salon there. Following the 1992 riots - which were partially brought about by the murder of Rodney King - Bradford described Leimert Park as a ‘scorched earth’. His process, then, constitutes a kind of aesthetic recuperation of the city’s history; he finds a ‘poignant significance in the meandering derive of the local’. He describes his work as ‘abstract’, because, like the places from which his media are derived, it is too complicated for existing categories. Both his collages and his neighbourhood are characterised by unlikely proximities: a Korean nail salon, a black wig store, a Mexican taqueria.

    These six parts represent a new form of landscape painting, one derived without oil and brushes, instead forming only from the Home Depot materials Bradford exclusively utilises. The text, which is the core of the work, is concealed amidst layers of deep acrylic and peeling papers, forcing the viewer to step closer and closer. Bradford attacked these canvases with power sanders, exposing flashes of color, earlier layers and unexpected juxtapositions. It is the latter that culminates in the striking, albeit ghostly portrayal of the social and political melée of Los Angeles, rough edges and all.

Ο ◆2

The Father’s “NO”

acrylic, felt-tip pen, silver coated paper, printed paper collage on gypsum
each: 60.3 x 74.9 cm (23 3/4 x 29 1/2 in.)
Each initialled and dated 'MB 07' on the reverse.

£350,000 - 450,000 

Sold for £425,000

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 27 June 2016