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E.T. and Xanax: An Interview with Katherine Bernhardt

“Katherine and E.T. have lots in common,” wrote Katherine Bernhardt’s sister Elizabeth, in an essay on the occasion of the artist’s solo show, “Done with Xanax,” which opened last week at Canada Gallery’s new Tribeca location. “Growing up in the suburbs, she immediately identified with E.T., who himself landed in a suburban setting and could not figure out how to get away from it while suffering great existential pain.” In the show, Bernhardt debuted 11 paintings, each of which stars the empathic, titular alien of Spielberg’s 1982 masterpiece. In Bernhardt’s distinctive style, objects like Pac-Mans, telephones and Xanax bars float freely in the singular universe of her canvases. In this world, the extra-terrestrial once again becomes our protagonist. Painted by Bernhardt on the patio of her childhood house, the paintings’ nostalgia grows more poignant. May we all be so lucky as to phone home....

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