Mark Bradford – Exhibition of the United States at the 2017 Venice Art Biennale
All photos © Inexhibit 2017
Mark Bradford – Tomorrow is Another Day – The exhibition of the United States at the 2017 Venice Art Biennale
The United States pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale of Art presents Tomorrow is Another Day, a site-specific installation by Mark Bradford. The exhibition is curated by Christopher Bedford and Katy Siegel, on behalf of this year’s commissioners, the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University.
Mark Bradford (b. 1961) is one of the most interesting figures of contemporary Abstract Expressionism; an artist whose works combine a masterful approach to color and matter with a profound attention to social issues and vulnerability and resiliency of marginalized people and communities.
Bradford expresses his vision through both artworks and social action initiatives, such as the nonprofit educational platform Art + Practice he co-founded in Los Angeles and, here in Venice, the Process Collettivo project he is developing in partnership with Rio Terà dei Pensieri, a nonprofit social cooperative that focuses on reintegrating incarcerated people into society.
Tomorrow is Another Day encompasses of five “rooms”.
The entrance room houses the installation Spoiled Foot, which fills the space with a large, obstructing black and red mass hanging from the ceiling and which forces the public to walk in a narrow passage and brush against the side walls as a metaphor of the contrast between those who live at the margins and a centralized social power.
Mark Bradford, “Spoiled Foot”, 2016, Mixed media on canvas, lumber, loan sheeting, drywall; photo © Inexhibit 2017
The second room presents four mostly-black works, three large collage-paintings and a sculpture. In the canvases, each named after a mythological siren, Bradford used a technique he already adopted in the pioneering works he made in the 2000s and which involves the use of endpapers “incorporated” in shimmering black-purple paintings in order to obtain an effect of deep, iridescend matter which “evokes the sea and its passages”, The works’ titles refer to the abuse of women, both in private life and in popular culture.
The three paintings “encircle” a central sculpture, entitled Medusa, made of a tangle of bleached black paper locks, to form a sort of contemporary-classic triptych focused of the theme of the depiction of women.
Mark Bradford, “Thelxiepeia” (right) and “Leucosia” (left), 2016, Mixed media on canvas; and “Medusa”, 2016, Acrylic, paint, paper, rope, caulk; photo © Inexhibit 2017
Mark Bradford, Thelxiepeia (detail), 2016, Mixed media on canvas; photo © Inexhibit 2017
The third space, the pavilion’s rotunda, accommodates a site-specific installation, entitled Oracle and made of skeins of bleached and black paper, though which Bradford transforms the rotunda into a sort of ancient grotto, “a site between cave and altar, between nature and culture, where oracles would deliver profound truth and predictions”.
Mark Bradford, Oracle, 2017 Mixed media; photos © Inexhibit 2017
While the second room presents four black works, the fourth room features a sequence of three large, colorful collage-paintings – created with commercial paper bleached, soaked and molded by hand by the artist – which recall both to the beauty and the fragility of nature.
Mark Bradford, “Tomorrow Is Another Day” (left), “105194” (right) and “Go Tell it on the Mountain” (center), 2016, Mixed media on canvas; photo © Inexhibit 2017
Tomorrow Is Another Day; photo © Inexhibit 2017
105194 (detail); photo © Inexhibit 2017
Finally, in the last room, a single video work made by Bradford in 2005 alludes to the evolution and resilience of black identity. The video, entitled Niagara, depicts Melvin, a Bradford’s former neighbor, who walks away from the camera, as Marilyn Monroe did in the film of the same name, as a metaphor of people’s seek for another tomorrow.
Definitely, Tomorrow is Another Day is an exhibition of great visual impact and substance, which fully reveals one of the best talents in contemporary American art.
Mark Bradford, Niagara, 2005, Video 3:17 minutes, color, no sound; photo © Inexhibit 2017