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Hauser & Wirth is currently showing “My Head Became a Rock,” Mark Bradford’s inaugural exhibition with the gallery. The show features the artist’s latest works, which are based on the work of French artist Gustave Caillebotte.
Significant to the exhibit is Caillebotte’s Raboteurs de Parquet (1875), an image that depicts Parisian workers sanding and polishing a floor. This theme parallels Bradford’s own interest in social responsibility and life beyond the studio. Bradford translates the technique of the urban workers into his own work, leading to an abstract décollage made up of diverse forms and layers.
Much of the character of Bradford’s work results from the materials that he chooses. He works from found materials—mainly paper, string, carbon papers, and sanders—which he brings together in a collage that he builds upon in layers. This technique lends a mysterious, puzzle-like quality to his compositions.
Although Bradford’s works are, in fact, representational, their subjects may be difficult to recognize and owe much to modernism. Christopher Bedford explains, “Bradford shares with Newman, Pollock, and Rothko an elemental desire to represent that which lacks form, but…where Bradford departs most sharply from his forebears is…in his insistence that through his process, a complex socially grounded subject can become ‘known.’”