a native son returns
Situated, as we are, in Los Angeles, we’re big proponents of the art scene’s migration west — from the pricey rents of New York City to the (slightly?) less pricey rents of the sprawling city of perpetual sunshine. The opening of the stunning Broad sent an important signal, but it could be argued that gallery Hauser Wirth & Schimmel’s first West Coast location was a similar triumph. Located in the heart of the re-branded Arts District in downtown Los Angeles, in a complex of seven buildings that includes a former flour mill, the beautifully transformed space has contributed to LA’s reputation as a contemporary art destination since it opened in 2016. Appropriately, their current exhibition features a native son and an AGEIST favorite. Born in South Central LA to a hairdresser and raised in Santa Monica, Mark Bradford’s geography is etched into his art. Posters, billboards, magazine corners, all sorts of printed matter found and discarded on the streets and in his mother’s salons provided early material and his preferred texture. His large paintings mimic the tropes of Abstract Expressionism and ring homages, or even parodies, of Jackson Pollock’s “action paintings.” Brush strokes vanish and are imitated by the addition and removal of comic strips. The medium of painting then is substituted by the use of posters, comic strips, and magazines in an attempt to reflect the current state of sociopolitical affairs. We admit that a certain predisposition to disbelief must be accepted at the outset in order to digest his new exhibition “New Works.” But consider us game.