Whitney Bedford, Petra Cortright, Kirsten Everberg, Judy Legerwood | Slippery Painting
01.09.20 - 03.10.20
Presented by Starkwhite in partnership with 1301PE Los Angeles.
1 September – 3 October, 2020
Slippery Painting presents the work of four painters from the United States. Together this group of artists seeks to alter our concept what a painting can be. Although we have come to know and appreciate the ‘expanded field’ of sculpture, and it is also true that contemporary painters have questioned and challenged the boundaries of their art form, the discipline of painting has generally remained faithful to the techniques and presentations established centuries ago. As American critic and art historian Barry Schwabsky comments in his introductory essay to the influential survey of contemporary painting Vitamin P2, “Before there was art, there was painting.” Although their individual practices are distinct, these four artists shift our understanding of painting, exploring the unfolding of relationships between art and technology, historical and contemporary politics, and the slippery nature of perception. In their hands, painting’s definition becomes intriguingly unstable.
Whitney Bedford’s painting examines how images can act as votives for acute ideas and experiences. Her recent practice reinterprets and cites a historical landscape tradition including those from its masters Turner, Gainsborough, and Constable. Translating canonical landscape imagery into her own hand, Bedford forms a potent language where each visual cue or metaphor is an element through which to chart and reexamine pressing contemporary concerns. Her densely detailed and intensely chromatic landscapes offer a hauntingly beautiful world that spotlights the urgency of climate change and the Anthropocene, our current geological epoch where human activity is the dominant influence on environment and ecology. Each work in the series has a compositional plane of separation, Bedford placing in front each idealised landscape a desert plant that acts as a time traveller from an arid and more barren future.
Petra Cortright is an artist who never touches paint or holds a brush. Using a computer and mouse she combs the internet for her source material, appropriating websites for images, shapes, colour, and pattern before drawing them into Photoshop. Stripped from their original context, Cortright uses painting software to digitally manipulate her finds, modifying, stretching, and recombining elements into a digital ‘paint’. Using software that allows her to place almost every element on its own separate layer, she creates digital paintings consisting of hundreds of painterly layers before printing the result to canvas, linen, or aluminium. The result is classically beautiful compositions, both dense and whimsical, and mostly abstract. Cortright’s practice combines digital innovation with traditional painterly values to make paintings for our time, creating work that shifts between the digital and physical worlds we now increasingly live in.
Kirsten Everberg creates architectural spaces and landscapes that conflate perception and experience. Her paintings explore meaning, memory, and history through softly blurred representations. Elegantly fluid brushwork combines with splashes and dribbles of paint to offer up allusive spaces that allude to photography, cinema, and literature. Using both oil and glossy enamel paints her lush and seductive surfaces call the viewer into their fragmented narratives and otherworldly beauty. Everberg’s immersive landscape paintings are joined by a new body of work based on Dutch Golden Age still life paintings. Subverting this art historical genre, Everberg replaces the traditional symbol-rich elements with plant and animal species simultaneously listed as extinct or endangered, native and non-native. Echoing the perfect studio style still life, what we see and what lies beneath are woven together in Everberg’s captivating and allusive paintings.
Judy Legerwood creates paintings and wall-based murals that nag at the histories of abstraction and feminism. Across vibrant canvases she paints symbols stereotypically associated with femininity or drawn from women’s art production, exploring their legacy across a range of formal concerns including light, colour, and space. Her richly textured graphic works include flowers and motifs found in textile design and decorative objects, historically rejected as unsuitable for high art. In Legerwood’s hands these elements become symbolic shapes, a formal vocabulary through which to examine sexuality and status. Evoking brightly coloured tapestries, Legerwood’s paintings create a perceptual disjunction. Her works appear to sag under their own weight as paint drips from the soft and organic surface she optically creates onto the crisp white frame of the canvas.
All works by Petra Cortright, Kirsten Everberg and Judy Ledgerwood are courtesy of 1301PE, Los Angeles.
Whitney Bedford uses her own mark making to bring the original source material of her paintings into the realm of the imaginary. Layered with both ink and oil paint, romantic scenes of destruction, calm at sea, and migrating birds are manipulated to the point of abstraction, showing only vestiges of her starting point. There is a mercurial quality to Whitney Bedford’s work. Her paintings have a compositional turbulence and a distinctly ominous air – their listing ships, heavy seas, detached icebergs, temperamental landscapes and low horizons stirring up notions of the sublime – yet on closer look another language begins to emerge, one altogether more eloquent. Drawing on Bedford’s architectural training, the works are first drafted in fluid, angular marks made with ink often lost in overpainting. Swiftly overlayed with an application of paint that is both beautiful and cruel as it actively creates and destroys, the gestural brushwork and dark ink offer crisp linearity with a capricious, smudgy chaser.
Bedford received her MFA at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2003. Recent solo exhibitions include: Whitney Bedford, Reflections on the Anthropocene, Vielmetter, Los Angeles (2020); Kaleidoscope, Saatchi Gallery, London (2018); Bardo Parade,” Art:Concept, Paris, France (2017); The Left Coast, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles, CA (2017). Recent group exhibitions include: Anniversary Show, Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago, IL (2017); A Verdant Summer, Taymour Grahne Gallery, New York, NY (2016); Painting: A Transitive Space, ST PAUL ST Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand (2015); La Femme de trente ans, Art : Concept, Paris, France (2015); PETRA
Cortright’s core practice is the creation and distribution of digital files, whether they be videos, GIFs, or JPEGs, using consumer or corporate software and platforms. She has become renowned for making self-portrait videos that use her computer’s webcam and default effects tools, which she then uploaded to YouTube. Cortright’s paintings on aluminum, linen, paper, or acrylic are created in Photoshop using painting software and appropriated images, icons, and marks. The digital files are endlessly modifiable, but at a “decisive moment” they are translated into two-dimensional objects. They become finite, yet their range of motifs and marks, and their disorienting perspectives and dimensions suggest dynamic change.
Petra Cortright (Santa Barbara, CA, 1986) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She studied Fine Arts at Parsons School of Design, The New School, New York, NY (2008) and the California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA (2004). Selected exhibitions include: “Electronic Superhighway,” Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2016); The Metabolic Age, MALBA, Buenos Aires, Argentina; “On YouTube. Kunst und Playlists aus 10 Jahren,“ Kunsthaus Langenthal, Switzerland; “Im Inneren der Stadt,” Künstlerhaus Bremen, Germany; Carl Kostyál, London, UK (solo, 2016); Depart Foundation, Los Angeles, CA (solo); Foxy Production, New York, NY (solo) (both 2015); Société, Berlin, Germany (solo); (2014 and 2016); Frieze Film, Frieze London, UK; 12th Bienniale de Lyon, France (both 2013); and Preteen Gallery, Mexico DF (solo) (2011).
Kirsten Everberg is an LA-based painter whose work explores the interplay between memory, fragmentation, photography, cinema and the subjective nature of perception. It is Everberg’s seductive surfaces that first capture our gaze. Using a unique combination of oil and enamel paint, her works hover between representation and pure paint. There is always a tension here between the convincing depiction of space, and the abstract skeins of color that dance across the canvas. What appears to be an historic ballroom or dense jungle from far away, is reconfigured into glossy pools of paint close-up. Everberg’s mastery of her medium is demonstrated by how deftly she walks this line. Narrative and image; truth and fiction; surface and what lies beneath – are all woven together in Everberg’s captivating works.
Everberg graduated with a MFA from UCLA in 2004. In the same year, she had her first solo exhibition – at 1301PE – and was featured in Russell Ferguson’s group exhibition ‘The Undiscovered Country’ at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Since then she has exhibited widely, amongst others at the Scottsdale Museum of Art; Pomona College museum of Art, Claremont, CA; FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims; MOCA, Los Angeles.
Since the beginning of her career in the 1980’s Judy Ledgerwood has been exploring light, color, and space in painting. Ledgerwood combines the formal vocabulary of concrete abstraction with influences from pop culture to create vividly colored compositions. Her paintings combine decorative patterning, central to textile design and other traditionally female crafts, with bold color and assertive brush strokes, traits associated with the male-dominated tradition of gestural abstraction. Often using stereotypically “feminine” elements, such as pastel colors and stylized floral patterns, Ledgerwood’s work merges formalist and feminist concerns. For this reason, the sensuality in Ledgerwood’s paintings is both immediate and subversive with the ability to resonate beyond its initial impact. For Ledgerwood, content lies in chroma’s ability to create moments of simultaneous harmony and disequilibrium. The aggression of her color palette and paint application undermines the stability created by the repetition of her marks.
Ledgerwood was born in Brazil, Indiana in 1959. She lives and works in Chicago, IL and has exhibited internationally at numerous institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, The Renaissance Society in Chicago and Graham Foundation, Chicago.