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You Can't Step in the Same Society Twice: Art by Mark Bradford

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I have mentioned more than once that the art world is changing, and so are our perceptions of it. It used to be that the vast majority of artists worked in studios, on an easel. That morphed into artists working/painting alone and going out drinking at night. And now it has become more of a full-time, multi-disciplinary endeavor.

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Mark Bradford, whose fine exhibit at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art is just beginning, is a splendid example. His art is gorgeous, thick, meditative, relevant, about self-discovery, but easy to extrapolate from. And perhaps, he is redefining painting by using tactile elements removed from his environment to be relocated onto his canvases. But more than that he is a full-time, art-engaged gig.

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Bradford makes art; torn, scraped, repurposed, gouged. He makes music. He dances. He collaborates with children. He gives back. Bradford is the kind of guy you want to hang out with. He changes lives. He gets our existence in context. He takes the pulse. He measures society. He comments on his, and our relationship, to our environment, while observing that where we are is in a constant state of flux.

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He incorporates artifacts from his culture in his art and freezes time as he goes. A few years ago the signs he liberated were about cheap mortgages. Now they are about DNA testing. Times and economies have changed. So has Bradford's art.

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Music, and references to music, and musicians, flow freely through his art. The rhythm of his community is in his heart and in his art. All this issues, concerns, perceptions and voices are one and inseparable in his life and artwork.

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Art has always been something an artist does. But it was normally in the studio. Now it is everywhere. All the time. Integrated. There is an agenda. A need to comment and a need to foment change.

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Thanks very much,
Paul Klein