This past weekend, Brooklyn based artist Katherine Bernhardt opened her fifth solo show at CANADA Gallery in New York. Titled “Green” the exhibition is a continuation of her pattern paintings that combine imagery of everyday consumer items and recognizable pop-culture characters. A visual hodgepodge of symbology , Bernhardt’s subjects create a dialogue about our obsession with material goods and manufactured happiness via capitalist structures. While the color green is typically associated with nature and growth, Bernhardt decisively contrasts it with nods to envy and greed. This tension in her work, while executed playfully, brings attention to larger discussions about modern society and our relationship to nature.
Overflowing with energetic form and painterly abstraction, the exhibition does not shy away from Bernhardt’s bold, bright style. With intense, day-glo palettes and heavy, spray painted line work, “Green” cements the artist’s figures in massive pantheon sized canvases, some spanning the entirety of the wall. Inspired by Dutch wax painting and Moroccon textile patterns, each piece is comprised of smaller, elemental parts, like a mosaic. “Green” explores how each individual component can interact to create conversations about the objects and idols that surround us. From tropical birds and fruits to the famous nike swoosh, each work sets the stage for a larger conversation about consumerism and human nature.
According the gallery, “The introduction of figures (Darth Vader, stormtroopers, the Pink Panther) gives the works allegorical power as Bernhardt’s painting seems to offer a warning about our materialistic culture and its mindless waste. The paintings reflect a political climate where suddenly good and evil seem to be colliding again, even though who is good and who is evil is anyone’s guess. Bernhardt doesn’t provide any simple answers, but allows her attraction, revulsion and sense of wonder to flow.” —Jessica Ross
“Green” is on view at CANADA Gallery through February 11th, 2018. Check out our photos from the opening reception above.