Ghost Ship

Mixed media on canvas
Dimensions variable

‘I’ve always tried to do what I do because, girl, there are so many boats that sweep you out to sea.’
—Mark Bradford in conversation with Anita Hill, Phaidon, 2018

‘Ghost Ship’ features 60 individual merchant poster paintings with an image of a cargo truck and text that reads ‘Truck Title Loans 909 967 CASH’ in hues of indigo and washed stone created by layers of oxidized caulk and paper.

Based on low-budget ads that have proliferated around Los Angeles in recent years, the new work speaks to the unacknowledged crisis in resources facing lower-income Angelenos, who might be tempted by an urgent or unexpected financial need, to sell their trucks for cash.

The title refers to a vessel afloat without a living crew, victims of disasters encountered during travel: disease, environmental cataclysm, marauding. Shown here at Zonamaco for the first time, ‘Ghost Ship’ evokes references to human immigration at the border between the US and Mexico and draws parallels between the predatory capitalism of cash loans in exchange for trucks and cash payments to smugglers.

‘Ghost Ship’ suggests that global capitalism mutates and adapts new methods for the exploitation of marginalized communities by those with more access to power and privilege.

Mark Bradford’s Merchant Poster paintings are among his most focused engagements with a single material throughout his career. Beginning in the early 2000s, he created works drawn from public advertisements surrounding lower-income communities in LA.

Inexpensive paper posters produced at a mass scale address the specific needs of people in the neighborhoods they target. Faint outlines in Bradford’s paintings variously read ‘Salve su casa’, ‘Cash for houses’, or ‘Sexy Cash We Buy Houses’, revealing a local crisis in housing security. ‘Health insurance’ or ‘DNA testing’ on others reveal a healthcare crisis.

Visit us at booth B107

ZONAMACO is the largest art fair platform in Latin America. Founded in 2002 by Zélika García, it holds four events annually at Centro Citibanamex in Mexico City. ZONAMACO aims to encompass and promote the art, design, antiques and art photography sectors in Mexico.

Plan your visit

In Conversation: Mark Bradford with Viviana Kuri

Wed 8 Feb 2023, 6.30 – 8 pm

Mark Bradford will be in conversation with Viviana Kuri, Director and Chief Curator of the Museo de Arte de Zapopan (MAZ) at ZONAMACO.

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On view in Guadalajara

Museo de Arte de Zapopan presents Mark Bradford’s exhibition ‘The Underdogs’ / ‘Los de Abajo.’

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About the artist

Mark Bradford (Los Angeles, 1961) is acknowledged as one of the names that best defined painting in the last two decades, conceiving his own pictorial language to express universal themes such as the distribution of power within societal structures and its impact on the individual, and the relationship between art and community engagement. Using everyday materials and tools from the aisles of the hardware store, he has created a unique artistic language. Frequently referred to 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.

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