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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, www.pbs.org)

    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.

  • Artist Biography

    Mark Bradford

    American • 1961

    Now acclaimed worldwide, Mark Bradford was first recognized on the contemporary art scene in 2001, following the inclusion of his multi-layered collage paintings in Thelma Golden’s Freestyle exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem. The groundbreaking exhibition introduced him alongside 27 other emerging African American artists as part of a generation of "post-Black" artists who sought to transcend the label of "Black artist”, while still deeply exploring and re-defining the complex notions of blackness. Bradford’s ascent has been as awe-inspiring as it is deserving: from critical attention in Freestyle, to his first solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York in 2007, to his installation at the 2017 Venice Biennial as the first African American artist to represent the United States.

    Critical of the ways in which the annals of art history divorced abstract art from its political context, particularly when looking at the Abstract Expressionists working in the 1950s, Bradford has endeavored to “make abstract painting and imbue it with policy, and political, and gender, and race, and sexuality”. Bradford’s pursuit of what he has termed “social abstraction”, that is, “abstract art with a social or political context clinging to the edges”, is deeply indebted to his choice of materials that allow him to imbue his works with a proliferation of readings, from art historical, to political, to autobiographical.

    Bradford’s choice of material has always been deeply connected to his biography and everyday existence. While Bradford’s early work utilized end-papers, the use of which was inspired by time at his mother’s hair salon, in the mid-2000s the artist shifted towards using paper material sourced on the streets of his immediate neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles. Despite the fact that Bradford is known for making paintings out of found printed material, his works only reveals glimpses of their original documentary intent. Working in the lineage of the Dadaists and the Nouveau Réalisme movement, Bradford honed a refined technique of a décollage, a process defined by cutting, tearing away or otherwise removing, pieces of an original image.

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Ο ◆2

The Father’s “NO”

2007
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.

Estimate
£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