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24 OCTOBER 2020 - 21 NOVEMBER 2020
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Living in relative isolation since the start of this year, Petra Cortright (b. 1986 in Santa Barbara, US) has noted her increasing sensitivity to the subtle changes in colour and mood that accompany the changing of the seasons; the works included in Rouge Vif d’Étampes reflect this.


Named after a variety of pumpkin grown in the artist’s garden, this exhibition captures something of the prevailing emotional shade we have all experienced this year, whilst simultaneously evoking the iconography of seasonal transition as it parallels the artist’s own recent stylistic development.

Within Cinderella’s classic fairytale narrative, the pumpkin symbolises a vehicle for escapist fantasy from the toils of domestic enclosure. In the paintings included in this exhibition, Cortright continues her exploration of what it means to appropriate and fragment the visual language of the home, at a time when many of us are deliberately confining ourselves in the interest of public health. The symbol of the pumpkin also famously doubles as both a macabre pagan reminder of winter’s return, just as it signals the onset of a period of distinctly-American halloween merchandising.

As the clock strikes midnight on the world’s most heavily scrutinised election cycle, the threatening idea of “turning back into a pumpkin,” further nuances these intersecting notions of transition as they traverse the private and the public spheres.

But the works in this exhibtion are far from pessimistic in tone. In works like download_starcraft_games+diablo2+diablo+downloads, 2020 (pictured above) we encounter a perfect example of Cortright’s distinctly playful visual language. Created by collaging various photographs of bouquets and fruit trees (either taken by the artist herself or lifted from the web), these fragments are then cropped and layered within Photoshop. After overlaying these compositions with frenetic digital “brush-strokes” Cortright then finishes the artwork by printing it onto a sheet of anodised aluminium. 

Whilst the quickened scribbling qualities of these works are somewhat reminiscent of Cy Twombly’s irreverent approach to painting, their treatment of digital iconography presents clear aesthetic affinities between Petra Cortright’s practice and those of other artists whose work has consistently shaped our understanding of post-internet art, such as: Avery Singer, Parker Ito and Ry David Bradley.

Adamant however, that she has no intention of communicating any kind of dense theoretical framework to the viewer with these new works, Cortright seems motivated first and foremost to produce an uplifting visual encounter for herself and her audience. 

Attractive in their vibrant and abstract nature, these new works foreground subjectivity and encourage the viewer to seek meaning in the painted images relative to their own life experience. And whilst the paintings in this exhibition are largely interpretative, they are also firmly rooted in the artist’s own sense of location. The ebullient backgrounds of works like INDIA RICE EXPORTERS “Jimmy Carter”+ JUMBO, 2020 spawn from Cortright’s daily viewing of the deep peaches and streaked vermilions that illuminate the Southern Californian sky at dusk.

Brigade is thrilled to present the artist's first ever gallery exhibition in Scandinavia.

Petra Cortright’s works are included in the permanent collections of: The Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), The Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, CA), The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA), The Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam, NE) and the Moderna Museet (Stockholm, SE).



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