Brooklyn Artist Paints Garfield and Coke Bottles in an Exploration of ‘Manufactured Crap’

Day/Night, 2017. Photo: Jason Mandella

You only have a few days left to head down to Canada, a gallery on the Lower East Side, to check out artist Katherine Bernhardt’s latest show, “Green.” With some canvases as large as 26 feet long, Bernhardt’s work is vivid, overwhelming, and moving.

Bernhardt, 43, wants to make a statement with each piece. Her uses of popularized images like the Nike logo, Garfield the cartoon cat, and Coca-Cola bottles (or as Bernhardt refers to them, “manufactured crap”) are contrasted with images of nature — insects, birds, bananas. The edges of her figures bleed into one other, causing the viewer to ask, “Where does the bumblebee stop and Darth Vader end?”

This contrast also plays out in the title of the show: “Green” is a direct reference to Soylent Green, as well as envy, vomit, and smog, but it simultaneously evokes images of natural beauty — grass, trees, the jungle. This balance — and sometimes fight — between organic and manufactured, good and bad, plays out throughout the show.

Direct Flight, 2017. Photo: Jason Mandella
Nike, Ñ, Garfield, 2017. Photo: Jason Mandella

The drippy aesthetic in her images is a direct result of Bernhardt’s painting process. She begins by outlining the images in spray paint and then fills in the outlines with acrylic paint, resulting in “a sense of uncertainty and loss of boundary.”

The paintings are accompanied by bright pink sculptures made from pieces of wood cut up and hammered together into various organic-seeming shapes. Some take on the look of flowers, with thin, wooden petals jutting out a few feet into the air, while others form hot-pink birds, perched atop a stool.

Lima Cola, 2017. Photo: Jason Mandella

Green” closes on February 11 at Canada on the Lower East Side.

Brooklyn Artist Explores ‘Materialistic Culture’ in Her Work