At Art Busan 2019, Société presents exclusively the works of Los Angeles based artist Petra Cortright. Using the computer as her medium, Cortright created a new, idiosyncratic body of work – luminous, floral still lifes featuring the lush landscapes of California.
Bold colours, rhythmic mark-making, and the convergence of abstract and hyper-real forms produce an expressive cartography comparable to a psychedelic garden of other-worldly delights. In manifesto of communist party +mp3 +moonlight shadow (2018) and CFE PRUEBAS A TRANSFORMADORES DE INSTRUMENTO_chevy_CP-668 (2018) orderly rows of lush palm trees are set against a grey gridded background. Cortright’s luminous renderings glow like both the celestial hues and an ordinary computer screen. Emphasized by an arsenal of digital brushstrokes, they confound our perception of the digital – analog divide. A rhythmic interplay can be seen between the exaggerated splashes of water and dancing daubs of colour dripping down the agave plants.
In this body of work, Cortright reveals a particular interest in plants native to the state of California – namely yucca and agave. Flourishing despite a rugged landscape and limited access to water, they can be interpreted as symbols of California – a land of dreams and resilience. By taking an interest in organisms that thrive in harsh conditions, Cortright also engages with the broader myth of the American West – a site of collective dreaming and projections of fantasies and desires. Californian flora in Cortright’s painting brings to mind not only the glamour of Hollywood, but also the grit and determination of the pioneers.
In Cortright’s hands, painting is extended into another realm. Linked less to a formal exercise in an inherently slow medium, Cortright’s approach to painting opens to the expansive and seemingly limitless layers of information found while surfing on the internet. Google Images, Bing, and Pinterest, with its array of dream interiors, prove to be rich repositories of material for the artist. Less concerned with the actual content than the colours, surfaces, and textures of the found images, she resorts to digitally sourced paints and brushes as a means to evidence her artistic and intellectual meanderings. Yet, Cortright’s work work resists specificity. The seemingly familiar titles, sounding like text bites and song titles of popular bands, are in fact derived from spam folders and SEO lists. Informed by an idiosyncratic logic, they evidence the artist’s highly personal relationship to the broader American culture and mythology.
In addition to the presentation at the fair, Cortright was commissioned to design the monumental banners and flags that are presented throughout the Art Busan show. On view are also her video works. Similarly to Cortright’s most recent participation in Times Square Project in New York, the videos are displayed on large LED screens.