Katherine Bernhardt’s work takes the form of pattern paintings depicting a crowded array of everyday items that have been isolated from their original context. Typical motifs include fast food, cigarettes, toys and household objects, or tropical elements such as turtles, toucans and exotic fruits as a result of her travels in Central America. Often combined with nostalgic characters such as Garfield, Pink Panther or E.T, Bernhardt’s brightly coloured canvases are a joyful testimony to her inner passions and personal obsessions. Disparate elements are brought together on the canvas, creating an eccentric universe that the artist is continuously adding new symbols to — an exuberantly cluttered collection of contemporary icons.
Earlier series have reflected her interest in popular culture (fashion models and Swatch watches, for example) as well as textiles, such as Moroccan rugs. While some have interpreted her work as a critique of consumerism, that is not a conscious concern of the artist, who is primarily motivated by a fascination with her everyday surroundings, and in giving it expression through colour and composition. She has often been praised for her distinctive technique, a complex fusion of process painting, Colour Field painting and street graffiti.
Katherine Bernhardt (b. 1975, St Louis, Missouri) lives and works in New York. Bernhardt’s recent solo exhibitions include Watermelon World, Mario Testino Museum, Lima (2018); Concrete Jungle Jungle Love, Lever House, New York, NY (2017); Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX (2017) and Contemporary Art Museum, Saint Louis, MO (2017).