Katherine Bernhardt’s most recent work takes the form of large-scale pattern paintings depicting a crowded array of everyday items that have been isolated from their original context. Typical examples include fruit and vegetables, fast food, cigarettes, toys and kitchen equipment. Painted in bright colours, and in a fluid style, her canvases are a joyful testimony to her inner passions and personal obsessions. As a result of her travels to Puerto Rico, she has also started to include tropical elements, such as turtles, toucans and exotic fruits. Earlier series have reflected her interest in popular culture (models painted from fashion magazines and Swatch watches) and textiles (Moroccan rugs). Because of the multiplicity of objects in her work, it is sometimes interpreted as a wry comment on consumerism. Yet this 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. Bernhardt’s graphic, pattern-based approach has its roots in her early encounter with Dutch wax printing on African fabrics (which also contains unexpected combinations of objects) 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).