Written By Maria Vogel
Katherine Bernhardt (b. 1975) is known for painting a hodgepodge of consumer symbols, tropical animals, and everyday objects, such as cigarettes and Doritos chip, onto vibrant colored canvases. Her paintings toe the line between expressionism and abstraction. We caught up with Katherine to discuss her most recent show at CANADA, “GREEN” and where she is gathering inspiration from today.
Have most of your paintings prior to the recent show at CANADA included an element of dread that we see here?
The model paintings for sure showed lots of emotions including fear, dread, disgust, sadness, happiness and excitement.
How does this most recent show reflect your feelings about society today?
Lots of these paintings reflect the current state of the world; robots, Garfield as Donald Trump — fat and stupid — living in a consumeristic society revolving around Star Wars and cinema release dates, evil robots taking over, the TV show Black Mirror and all that psychosis. And then maybe an element within that is that there’s still good and beauty in the world and also that art and nature are beautiful.
“Manufactured crap” is a loaded term. Can you speak more on this choice of language to explain the items in your paintings?
CANADA (my gallery) coined that term referring to Coca-Cola and the evilness of sugar and plastic, especially one-use plastic which is everywhere. It’s a reference to pollution, litter and recycling as well as corporate America aka the inhumanity of corporations.
How do your most recent works differ from the ‘Pattern’ paintings created a few years ago?
Most of them are more figurative and less pattern, but some are still pattern paintings. Darth Vader, Babar, Storm Troopers, Pink Panther and Garfield have replaced the models.
In the past you said you don’t create figurative works, rather paint patterns. Are these latest pieces a return to figuration?
Yes, some of these are figure paintings, with patterns in the background.
Your method of creating is very unique and untraditional, laying the canvas on the ground and using different modes of application. How did you arrive at these techniques?
This technique is actually really common, all the stain painters, Jackson Pollock and lots of other artists paint on the floor. I paint on the floor so I can use lots of liquid and so that it doesn’t drip, it pools instead. I love the rivers and pool that it creates.
What’s next for you? What are you excited for?
I’m super psyched for Art Basel Unlimited where I will be showing a gigantic painting that is 10 x 70 feet. Show opens June 11th in Basel Switzerland!!