“I guess that's my aesthetic. Raw, stained, messy, using-your-hand-in-it art.”
- Katherine Bernhardt
Katherine Bernhardt has developed a singular voice in painting through a process that is improvisational and loose. Her Pattern paintings feature figures from American pop culture such as E.T. and Bart Simpson floating in expansive fields of exuberant color amongst everyday items like toilet paper, cigarettes and Clorox bottles. Lacking illusion, perspective and logical scale, Bernhardt’s work draws on the tradition of Moroccan rugs and their graphic, two-dimensional pictoral language, as well as the work of artists from the Pattern and Decoration Movement of the 1970s.
Bernhardt’s work is highly autobiographical. She explores each of her obsessions thoroughly, be it mushrooms or Crocs, before moving on to another, chronicling her life and broader culture along the way. Her loose, freehanded style is hard earned and her seemingly random gathering of imagery belies her formalist tendencies.
Bernhardt’s habit of inviting accident and chance into her work translates perfectly into the print studio, a space ripe for exploring, where an artist must relinquish some control to the press and the transfer of image from plate to paper. At Two Palms, Bernhardt works quickly letting one quotidian motif draw forth another, reacting all the while to the boisterous colors she has laid down in crayon and watercolor on a wooden plate.
Katherine Bernhardt (b. 1975, St Louis, MO) received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1998 and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York, in 2000. Bernhardt’s work is held in the collections of the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; the Portland Museum of Art; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy; the Brant Foundation, and the Rubell Collection, among others. She has had institutional solo shows at Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in Texas in 2017 and the Museo Mario Testino (MATE) in Lima, Peru, in 2018. In 2017, Bernhardt painted a sixty-foot-long mural entitled XXL Superflat Pancake for the St. Louis Contemporary Art Museum.
Bernhardt lives and works in St. Louis and began making monotypes at Two Palms in 2023.