Talented, Wild and Prolific - A visit to Katherine Bernhardt's Studio
Katherine Bernhardt is one of those fantastic artists who is superbly talented, prolific, fun and intense. Admired and loved by collectors, critics, curators and other artists, Katherine is magically and irreverently transforming objects that are near-and-dear to her heart like watermelon slices, sneakers, cigarettes and soda cans into extraordinary pieces of art
She is badass, funny and quick-witted and I simply adore her paintings and her affable demeanor. Her canvases are big and expressive; those that are small always convey the illusion of being larger. I dig her wild-style paintings where there's always symmetry, excellent color-compositions and fun subjects that although light-hearted in essence never look shallow in her work.
In the past she has also indulged her senses and that of her spectators in a series of fashion portraits that are created in different scales. They are depictions of models that in the fashion world would look perfect, but she prefers to smudge their makeup a little, or their hair, or let the paint drip, because at the end of the day, they are beautiful but also human. Her portraits always show exaggerated features, they remind me of Picasso's paintings, except Katherine's are really much more glam.
Inspired by her husband Youssef Jdia, who is in the business of Moroccan rugs, Katherine has also turned her canvases into compositions that draw from Middle Eastern motifs. That also led to a husband-and-wife collaboration in a fantastic show at The Hole last fall, where she created collages on canvas that incorporated discarded textile pieces as well as magazine cut-outs and advertisement while he artfully covered the floors with his rugs.
Khalifa, her three-year-old son (who reminds me of my own unruly boys) and has been with us for the duration of the visit, is boisterous and spontaneous, hilarious and sweet at the same time. He keeps Katherine on her toes, and I can tell that she's enjoying motherhood and taking the experience with as much intensity as her career.
As she prepares for two more exhibitions this coming fall; a solo show at China Art Objects Galleries in Los Angeles and a group one at Stuart Shave Modern Art in London, and after having personally witnessed the pieces produced throughout her different phases, I always have the same reaction: I want more.