Flood has been making and showing artwork for 30 years and has worn many different hats along the way: punk rocker, corporate lackey, author, identity illusionist. His work introduces the idea of a defeatist hermeticism: total, and yet not reassuring. A search-and-deface tactic serves the artist’s needs; collected Hurricane Ike debris, glossy celebrity posters, road signs and bolts of chintzy lace are transformed to cut a swath through the usual. This would seem to be the point of artwork at large.
But, in Mark’s case, the swath is not born from the withdrawn nobility of stereotypical studio practice. Instead the self-described “multi cellular invertebrate recently discovered under the slimy rock of obscurity” exists squat in the mix, if only to adjust it. Even beauty is re-mapped to become, as Flood says, “the sort that bypasses art bureaucrats, would-be authoritarians and the gut-shielding, gate-keeping functions of the human mind.” The surface of a text panel or lace painting still holds all the irregularities and shiny moments prone to seduction: if one is seduced by important words misspelled, does it still count? In the artist’s words, “Using the finest retail display technology, Wart Exhibit assembles a sampling of these problematic exercises into a walk-thru experience for casual viewing.” This is the first solo exhibition by Mark Flood in Berlin.
“Like A Turkey Thru Corn” is Bradley’s third solo exhibition at Peres Projects and his first at the new Culver City gallery location in Los Angeles.
Until recently Bradley has been known primarily for his minimal, rectilinear “figures” composed of monochrome panels. The paintings presented here, however, continue the artist’s beloved and maligned new Schmagoo series, first presented in New York last fall. A somewhat ridiculous word, “Schmagoo” originates from the Beat-era street slang for heroin. It is this wry semiotic pairing that compels the artist to take a primitive approach:
“The word stuck with me, and I began to think of “Schmagoo” as short hand for some sort of Cosmic Substance… Primordial Muck. The stuff that gave birth to everything∑I have been thinking of Painting as a metaphor for the original creative act.” (JB, 2008)
Bradley drafts many versions of each gesture before hitting the finished note on raw canvas, as if to imply that automatic writing can be made repetitive (picture a grade school notebook cover) and, as such, eventually reveals potent mutations: slang for heroine (Super Schmagoo), a faceless mouth, the Jesus fish who swims downstream. Perhaps as Jungian children, we’ve been inbred by appropriation and pop overexposure. Bradley titles the show after late Houston blues legend Lightnin’ Hopkins’ 1959 tune of a similar name. Hopkins sings about fleeing through the corn fields like a turkey in pajamas: “Just had to get away from there!” Bradley’s work shares this kind of endearing resolution of a fix.