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Travel Tip: Art and Archaeology in United States
Mark Bradford: MATRIX 172

Mark Bradford: MATRIX 172 (detail)
Mark Bradford: MATRIX 172 (detail)
Mark Bradford: MATRIX 172
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT  •  Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art  •  Ongoing

Mark Bradford grew up in South Central Los Angeles - where in 1965 the Watts riots upended his neighborhood and in 1992 the Los Angeles riots (ignited by the Rodney King verdict) resulted in mass arson, looting, assault, and murder in the same area and beyond. In the aftermath of the King riots, cyclone fencing was installed around the destruction and eventually merchant posters began to appear as the initial signs of an economic renewal.

Such everyday realities of the local community and urban landscape inform his racially and politically charged work. Known for tactile, signage-based and map-like collage paintings, Bradford’s trademark monumental, mixed-media abstractions layer string and advertising posters stripped from the city streets infamous for gang violence. The artist maintains his studio here in the same Leimert Park neighborhood where he lived until the age of eleven.

In his work, the layered posters are largely painted over, but offer glimpses of texts that betray the area’s problematic social and economic issues. Ads for bail bonds businesses, money-cashing stores, and paternity- and disease-testing clinics target and prey upon the grim realities of the tough, poor, inner-city community. These social and political interests intrinsic to Bradford’s “post-black” work are symbolically represented, veiled in abstraction.

For Bradford’s MATRIX project, he creates a site-specific wall drawing inspired by Sol LeWitt, the conceptual artist and Hartford native who is the founder of the “wall drawing” art form. (There are four Sol LeWitt wall drawings currently on view in the museum.)

Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art Website

Contact: Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
600 Main Street
Hartford CT, 06103

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