Katherine 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. Bernhardt’s trust in the fundamental underpinnings of painting gives her the freedom to depict anything she wants democratically. Through her index of images, from childhood sticker books to a ketchup bottle, Bernhardt chronicles her life within the broader culture. In a palette ranging 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.
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