Works by: Katherine Bernhardt, Katherine Bradford, Mira Dancy, Derek Fordjour, Grace Weaver.
In the last decade abstraction has dominated the art scene, but now some painters in New York are reinventing figuration with a new freedom, each of them with a very distinct approach.
Katherine Bernhardt (*1975 St. Louis, lives in New York) creates paintings depicting every day objects, fruit, flowers and plants, but also the Pink Panther, in a very American, “in-your-face”, energetic style. Fluid and hurried, Bernhardt’s canvases are seemingly provisional, radiating energy. First exploring patterns in the context of imported rugs, Bernhardt’s more recent works stem from an interest in Dutch wax printing and the all-over patterning of African textiles. Her subjects are selected and grouped according to underlying emotional associations and broken down into elemental details, pure forms and swaths of color to build simpler, yet expressive, arrangements. She has exhibited extensively in the USA and Europe. Solo shows in 2017 include Lever House, New York; Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth; Contemporary Art Museum, Saint Louis.
Katherine Bradford (*1942 New York, lives in New York) is known for her vibrant palette and eccentric compositions. Often built up over months and sometimes years, her paintings are textured, semi-transparent coats of acrylic paint. Her recent paintings are depictions of water and swimmers, both playful and profound. Painting and swimming share immersion and a certain loss of control that is simultaneously wild and structured. The body in nature: we see ourselves situated in relationship to the deep other. In her newest work, she even more deliberately sets her scenes in larger, planetary landscape-stages. The characters are moving along the surface of the earth, and between underworlds and outer space. Her works have been shown at PS1, New York, at the Brooklyn Museum and currently at the Museum of Modern Art of Forth Worth in Texas.
Taking a feminist approach, Mira Dancy (*1979 Newcastle, UK, lives in New York) makes powerful, expressive works centred on the female figure. She works primarily on canvas, but has also branched out into wall painting and neon light pieces. Dancy often works on a large-scale, filling her canvases with expansive nudes rendered in vibrant colors and with calligraphic, sweeping, sinuous lines and color fields reminiscent of the German Expressionists, with a unique, very personal style. Recent group shows: Rubell Family Collection, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington and MoMa PS1, New York.
Derek Fordjour‘s (*1974 Memphis, lives in New York) images draw upon a variety of sources, including sporting imagery, board and card games, carnival motifs and the circus to explore ideas of vulnerability. He uses the socio-political implications of games to discuss the power structure that exists around rewards and sanctions, for both the player within the game and as an allegory for the broader human experience. His painted collages are the result of the meticulous accumulation of numerous layers of newspaper, and a marriage of printmaking and painting processes resulting in highly textured surfaces. This year he had a solo show at Sugar Hill Museum, New York. Public collections include JP Morgan Chase collection and Dallas Museum of Art.
Grace Weaver (*1989 Vermont, lives in New York) portrays playful scenes of stimulus-saturated modern life in a very personal graphic style. Her subjects—often depicted at leisure and in bright shades — have included a girl checking her cellphone at the beach, another jogging in flip flops at the park, and a couple lounging in bed holding a laptop and a hand mirror. Presenting these vignettes in a distinctive aesthetic, Weaver flattens and elongates her figures, giving them an almost cartoon-like appearance. This year she had a solo show at Kunstverein Reutlingen in Germany.
Monica de Cardenas (press release)