Whitney Bedford – Bohemia

31 July – 24 August, 2018

American painter Whitney Bedford creates portraits and landscapes with emotional charge as to embolden her archetypal subjects with memory and paint. Bedford uses iconic public figures and the popular mythology of recent academia to create a personal encyclopedia of references. The metaphors and visual symbols in her practice form a rich and potent landscape from which to map current history and contemporary romanticism. 

Bedford’s paintings are created on wooden panel wrapped with linen. She starts with a very smooth surface, usually painted with a flash of flat but bright colour, then drafts and draws her subjects with ink. An artist who often draws from old etchings or stylised black and white photos, the drafting process is a nod to the original source material, and also to Bedford’s architectural training. Next Bedford applies oil paint to bring the painting to life, pushing and pulling the oil across the work’s surface. The paint overcomes the dialogue set up by the line work, and the work oscillates between a drawing escaping the paint and the paint freeing itself from the grid of line and form.

While the surfaces of Bedford’s work are characterised by line and colour and haunted with imagery that speaks of history or place, they are underpinned by strong conceptual currents. Bedford has titled her exhibition Bohemia, seeing the paintings as “a fantasy arcadia compared to our dark and conservative times.” There’s a sense of the mythical to these paintings, their strange beauty offering an idealised place or age, somewhere to escape and rediscover what’s essential. Against the onslaught of current politics and the inauthentic, kitsch, and trivial that dominate the media and contemporary life, Bohemia offers refuge.

Creating an escape from a materialistic and conservative world, Bohemia presents the past as a roadmap for the future. Characterised by both the romanticism of history and colouring reminiscent of acid house raves, Bedford’s practice pitches the past against the contemporary. Her ongoing shipwreck series draws on the history of naval painting but uses the natural stage of the sea as a metaphor for personal and political memory.  Drawing from academic paintings of battles fought at sea to document the political landscape, Bedford uses the same canon of imagery to mark current history. Posing readings as diverse as end of empire, or passage of human life, her shipwrecks represent thresholds – between despair and discovery, old and new ways of being.

Although it may not serve us, there’s a strong allure to the roller-coaster ride of terror and fascination that certain individuals or events in life evoke. Bedford’s feverish dream landscapes illustrate this duality. It is their beauty as much as their impending doom, that attractiveness in spite of fear, that draws us. With its hint of horror, they embody the classic notion of the sublime, but redefined for our contemporary time. 

Bedford’s painting is an introspective pursuit. Like psychoanalysis, it presents the inner life as a force of nature, both menace and wonder. The mind, like the world it lives in, isn’t always pretty place, and this constant duality is played out in her practice. She gives us both still and violent, arid and water logged, hot and flat vs tumultuous expanses of ocean. What’s consistent is the raw source of untamable energy that emanates from each painting.

Bedford received her MFA at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2003. She was the winner of the 2001 UCLA Hammer Museum Drawing Biennale and received a Fulbright Graduate Fellowship from Hoschule der Kuenste, Berlin.

Recent solo exhibitions include: Numinous, Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago, IL (2018); Bardo Parade,” Art:Concept, Paris, France (2017); The Left Coast, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles, CA (2017); East of Eden, Carrie Secrist, Chicago, IL (2016); Lost and Found, Starkwhite, Auckland, New Zealand (2016); Night and Day, Taymour Grahne, New York, NY (2015); West of Eden, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Culver City, CA (2015); Whitney Bedford, Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago, IL (2014); Love Letters, Project Space, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Culver City, CA (2014); and Whitney Bedford: This for That, Starkwhite, Auckland, New Zealand (2013). 

Recent group exhibitions include: Evolver, LA Louver, Los Angeles, CA (2018); New on the Wall (N.O.W.), Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, OH (2018); C’est Comme Vous Voulez – As You Like It, Praz-Delavallade, Paris, France (2018); 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); Sargent’s Daughters, Sargent’s Daughters, New York, NY (2014); Lovers, Starkwhite, Auckland, New Zealand (2014); Summer Group Show, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Culver City, CA (2013); Facing the Sublime in Water, CA, Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA (2012); Water & Power @ Roadside Attraction, Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA (2012).

Bedford’s work is featured in several collections: the Marciano Collection, LA, CA; Pizutti Collection, Columbus, Ohio; Eric Decelle, Brussels, Belgium; Francois Pinault Collection, Paris, France; Ginette Moulin and Guillaume Houzé Contemporary Art Collection, Paris, France; Hammer Museum, Hammer Contemporary Collection, Los Angeles, CA; Jumex Collection, Mexico City, Mexico; Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz, Miami, FL; and The Saatchi Gallery, London, UK.

Bedford has been the recipient of many grants and awards, including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant in 2015.

Bedford currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, including teaching as a guest lecturer at the University of California and Chapman University, Orange, CA.





Layla Rudneva-Mckay | I Roll

15 February 2022 - 19 March 2022

Fiona Pardington | Tarota

16 November – 18 December 2021

Fiona Pardington | Tarota Preview

5 October – 7 October 2021

Jan van der Ploeg | The Other Window

17 August – 12 October 2021

Laith McGregor | Second Wind

3 July 2021 – 7 August 2021

Richard Maloy | Maternal Routine

3 June - 19 June 2021

The Auckland Art Fair 2021

24.02 - 28.02

Will Cooke | Every Wall Is A Door

15 January 2021 - 13 February 2021

Whitney Bedford - Bohemia

Seung Yul Oh: Horizontal Loop

John Reynolds: RocksInTheSky...

For Pink Pussycat Club | as part of THE BILL

Fiona Pardington | Childish Things

Seung Yul Oh memmem

Rebecca Baumann Once More With Feeling


The Armory Show 2010 | 1001 Nights
an installation by John Reynolds

Art LA Contemporary 2010

ShContemporary 2008 | Gavin Hipkins, Hye Rim Lee, Jae Hoon Lee and Grant Stevens

Jonny Niesche | Poikilos | 17 November - 22 December



Performative Geographies

Sampler 2020

Gordon Walters: From the Archive

Richard Maloy

Rebecca Baumann: New Work

Jan van der Ploeg | The Other Window | 17 August to 12 October

the artists in conversation, The Estate of L. Budd et al.

Art of Wine

Billy Apple® and Tāme Iti: Flagged

Clinton Watkins

Yuk King Tan

Sampler 2019

TIKI: Orphans of Māoriland



Ani O'Neill

Laith McGregor | Second Wind | July 3 - August 7

Alicia Frankovich

Martin Basher: Untitled

The Estate of L.Budd_et al.

Gavin Hipkins: Block Units

John Stezaker: Collages

Grant Stevens - The Mountain and the Waterfalls

Gordon Walters



Len Lye: Love Springs Eternal

Richard Maloy | Things I have Seen

Michael Zavros | The Silver Fox

Martin Basher | Devil at the Gates of Heaven

Daniel von Sturmer, Luminous Figures

Martin Basher | Hawaiian Tropic

Nabokov's Blues: The Charmed Circle

John Reynolds 2017

BIll Henson | 1985 -2021 | 21 May - 19 June

On the Grounds

Billy Apple

Beyond Landscape

John Reynolds | WalkWithMe...

Laith McGregor | Swallow the Sun

Matt Henry | Analogues

Daniel Crooks | Vanishing Point

Material Candour 2016

Fiona Pardington | 100% Unicorn

Layla Rudneva-Mackay: Running Towards Water

Martin Basher Birds of Paradise | 13 April - 14 May

Clinton Watkins | lowercase

Whitney Bedford 2016 | Lost and Found

Alicia Frankovich | The Female has Undergone Several Manifestations

Fiona Pardington | The Popular Recreator

Gavin Hipkins | Block Paintings

Gordon Walters: Gouaches and a Painting from the 1950s

In Motion

Laith McGregor | Somewhere Anywhere

Starkwhite Queenstown | New Location

TOTEM | A Starkwhite exhibition curated by Mary Morrison

Group Show

Martin Basher | Jizzy Velvet

John Reynolds BLUTOPIA

Gavin Hipkins Erewhon

Grant Stevens Hold Together, Fall Apart

Michael Zavros Bad Dad

Not Another Art Fair | 24 February -3 April


Layla Rudneva-Mackay


Glen Hayward I don't want you to worry about me

Matt Henry High Fidelity

Richard Maloy All the things I did by Richard Maloy

Li Xiaofei

John Reynolds Vagabondage

Clinton Watkins Frequency Colour

BAZINGA! curated by Robert Leonard

Starkwhite Queenstown 29 January - 26 February

Whitney Bedford: This for That

Jin Jiangbo: Rules of Nature

Martin Basher

Billy Apple®: $9,020 AND $5,750 TOP UPS

Jim Speers Long Days

Ross Manning: Field Emmissions

Peter Peryer Edition

Jae Hoon Lee Antarctic Fever

Greetings from Los Angeles curated by Brian Butler

Seung Yul Oh HUGGONG