David Zwirner has announced the representation of the American artist Katherine Bernhardt in partnership with Canada. David Zwirner will present an exhibition of new work by Bernhardt in London in the spring of 2022.
Bernhardt’s boundless visual appetite has established her as one of the most energetic painters working today. She first attracted notice in the early 2000s for her paintings of supermodels taken straight from the pages of fashion magazines such as Elle and Vogue. In the decade following, she began making pattern paintings that feature an ever-expanding list of quotidian motifs. Tacos, coffee makers, toilet paper, cigarettes, E.T., Garfield, Darth Vader, and the Pink Panther make unlikely visual combinations within expansive fields of exuberant color. She takes pleasure in variety, and fully investigates each of her obsessions before moving to another. Bernhardt’s trust in the fundamental underpinnings of painting gives her the freedom to depict anything she wants, and the democratizing surfaces of her canvases work without illusion, perspective, logical scale shifts, or atmosphere. With Bernhardt’s blunt yet lyrical approach, each painting has the feel of a complete thought that engages the artist’s rich and raucous free association.
Through her index of images, from childhood sticker books to a ketchup bottle seen during travel, Bernhardt chronicles her life and the broader culture, synthesizing her visual material with hard-won ease. Her influences span from Henri Matisse and the Pattern and Decoration movement to Peter Doig and Chris Ofili. She is an artists’ artist, admired by many contemporary peers working today as a singular voice in painting. In a palette that ranges from restrained to vivid Day-Glo, Bernhardt paints the canvases face up on her studio floor, employing spray paint, puddles of thinned-out acrylic, and utilitarian brushwork to emphasize aspects of her motifs. Bernhardt’s process is improvisational and loose, at times inviting accident and chance into the works, as well as asserting an equal relationship between artist and material.