Mark Bradford, Untitled, ed. 45, 2003. 32 ½ x 32 ¾ inches. ©Cirrus Editions Ltd. Courtesy Cirrus Gallery & Cirrus Editions, Ltd and Mark Bradford.

Upcoming exhibitions announced associated with unveiling of expanded Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum arts complex

Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum presents Mark Bradford: Lithographs, featuring two lithographic prints produced by Los Angeles-based artist Mark Bradford with Cirrus Editions Ltd. This exhibition, displayed in the Museum’s new David Campagna Prints and Drawings Room, emphasizes Bradford’s dedication to using abstraction to question the art canon and material hierarchy in contemporary art. Using innovative methods that incorporate elements of painting and collage in printmaking, the artist challenges technical conventions. His unorthodox art material of choice in the early 2000s—paper end wraps used in perms—were utilized in experimental ways for these lithographs. In choosing unorthodox paper-based goods in his practice, which he calls “social papers,” Bradford lays claim to an “aesthetic of southeast Los Angeles,” and indirectly challenges the boundaries of urban landscape that historically have restricted the living and working conditions for people of color.

The February 12 opening of Mark Bradford: Lithographs coincides with the expanded Museum unveiling celebration and the launch of the CSULB Festival of the Arts, which spans the entire spring semester. The exhibition will be on view from February 12 to March 26, 2022.

Early in his professional career, Los Angeles artist Mark Bradford was best known for creating paintings by collaging layers of paper, specifically the translucent end wrap tissue papers used in beauty salons to protect hair from the chemicals in perming solutions, with scraps of pastel copier paper to add color. The delicate repetitions in these abstract works call to mind the subtle, gridded color compositions by expressionist painter Agnes Martin and the insistent realism and material austerity by minimalist painter Robert Ryman.

Bradford’s motivations for his paintings in the early 2000s were entirely his own. Resistant to “easy” equations about identity based upon biography and historic narratives, he has worked to create a space for himself that is neither reductive nor didactic.

Abstraction has provided him freedom, he feels, to dismantle normative archetypal narratives about modernism and Black culture. It gave him an opportunity to “speak out the side of his neck,” a way of indirectly questioning how art and culture are framed.

When Mark Bradford was approached by Cirrus director Jean Milant to produce these prints in 2003, it was the first time the artist had worked at a professional print workshop. Since its earliest days, Cirrus had committed to exploring whatever means, however unconventional, to achieve the effects sought by artists. In Bradford’s case, this meant accommodating his methods for composing paintings and applying them to printmaking. Bradford began by burning the edges of delicate end wraps used in hair salons, wetting them, and then arranging them directly onto mylar sheets. The mylar was laid atop the photo emulsion of the lithographic plates. When the plates were exposed to ultraviolet light to create a positive image, those charred edges were transformed into dark outlines. For some plates, Bradford positioned torn pieces of copier paper onto the mylar to produce blocks of flat color.

For the Cirrus editions, each plate was tinted with a distinct ink color. The resulting abstractions were revealed through the buildup of semi-opaque colors with each successive pass of the paper through the press. In this respect, the process was closer to that of painting than standard printmaking. The overall composition could not be entirely intuited by the artist or the printers until the final application of color was complete.

About Mark Bradford

Mark Bradford (b. 1961 in Los Angeles; lives and works in Los Angeles) is a contemporary artist best known for his large-scale abstract paintings created out of paper. Characterized by its layered formal, material, and conceptual complexity, Bradford’s work explores social and political structures that objectify marginalized communities and the bodies of vulnerable populations. Just as essential to Bradford’s work is a social engagement practice through which he reframes objectifying societal structures by bringing contemporary art and ideas into communities with limited access to museums and cultural institutions.

Using everyday materials and tools from the aisles of the hardware store, Bradford has created a unique artistic language. Referred to frequently as ‘social abstraction,’ Bradford’s work is rooted in his understanding that all materials and techniques are embedded with meaning that precedes their artistic utility. His signature style developed out of his early experimentation with end papers, the small, translucent tissue papers used in hairdressing; he has since experimented with other types of paper, including maps, billboards, movie posters, comic books, and ‘merchant posters’ that advertise predatory services in economically distressed neighborhoods.

About Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum

Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum is a community of people who examine, critique, and create contemporary art and culture. The Museum hosts exhibitions and projects that serve students, campus communities and the public, working to build accessible educational opportunities around art and art making. Its recently completed renovation completely redesigned the museum site, expanding the complex to 11,000 square feet. Scheduled to re-open with a public celebration on February 12, 2022, several new exhibitions and public spaces allow the Museum to better serve visitors with more accessible upgraded facilities. As one of the few museums in the Greater Long Beach/Los Angeles area with free admission, well-developed inclusive policies and multi-use spaces make the new and improved Museum welcoming for everyone.

Upcoming Exhibitions include Linda Besemer: StrokeRollFoldSheetSlabGlitch (February 12–June 25, 2022) in the Main Gallery; Rita Letendre: Eternal Space (February 12–March 26, 2022) in the Mini Gallery; Hung Viet Nguyen: Sacred Path (February 12–May 7, 2022) in the Community Gallery; Mark Bradford: Lithographs (February 12–March 26, 2022) in the David Campagna Prints and Drawings Room; and Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld: In-Between the Silence (February 12–June 25, 2022) in the Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Gallery.