Critics’ Picks

Katherine Bernhardt, Lima Cola, 2017, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 11 x 16'.

Katherine Bernhardt, Lima Cola, 2017, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 11 x 16'.

New York

Katherine Bernhardt

60 and 61 Lispenard Street
January 5–February 11, 2018

There’s a lot to parse in “Green,” Katherine Bernhardt’s enormously bananas show of paintings and sculptures. Take, for example, Climate Change (all works 2017), a spray-painted picture filled with melty Nike swooshes, cigarettes, deranged fruit, and rectangular birds. It could be a riff on poisonous consumerism and how it’s upsetting nature’s delicate balance. Or, seeing as Bernhardt is an artist who works with a very particular set of colors and shapes from the contemporary landscape that pique her interest (or gag reflex), it could be a straightforward example of unencumbered formalism. Bernhardt’s paint handling is equally yummy and yucky: Gross pools of toxic violets and bile greens commingle with euphoric blasts of spray paint that give some of her subjects an auratic quality, causing them to feel like celestial bodies from galaxies far, far away.

Storm troopers, watermelons, R2-D2s, and Coke bottles juicy with airbrushy brown soda invade the AbExy surface of Lima Cola. The incongruous jumble of things intensifies in the painting Siesta, where a languid Garfield—Jim Davis’s acerbic cartoon kitty—is surrounded by a swarm of live-wire bees. It’s the only canvas in a section of the gallery that’s jam-packed with wooden birds and flowers, all untitled, and colored hot pink. These constructions, oddly furniture-like, willfully take up room: Wings, beaks, leaves, and petals jut out into space, which makes walking around them challenging, even dangerous. But hey, if you have the guts to get close, then do—after all, that’s how Bernhardt rolls.