Critics’ Picks

Petra Cortright, Andro-6 Greeting Cards, 2015, digital painting, duraflex, 3D print, UV print and stickers mounted on acrylic, 49 × 42 × 1".

Petra Cortright, Andro-6 Greeting Cards, 2015, digital painting, duraflex, 3D print, UV print and stickers mounted on acrylic, 49 × 42 × 1".

New York

Petra Cortright

Foxy Production
2 East Broadway 200
February 6–March 7, 2015

Petra Cortright’s latest paintings are born of plebeian Web tools and swatches, then printed onto clear Plexiglas. The artist mounts these images on mirrored or regular acrylic, where they take on a more resolutely physical feeling: Their stacked surfaces implore the viewer to peer between them; their underside imprints beg to be compared to their reflected marks. They also look better in person than on Instagram, which is not always the case with digital art incarnated into gallery solids. In chess and buffy keepers+kick.rom, both 2015, foregrounds of holiday GIFs or shiny blackberries, some applied as stickers, float atop backgrounds of feathery blossoms and brushstroke gestures. Each produces a stereoscopic blur that recalls a wearied vection or floaters ubiquitous in the age of the screen, and highlights the incidental aesthetic elements of digital interface, such as pixel lag and backlight bleed. These are works that relish the embodied feel of the ether, wondering how its version of life might yet invigorate ours.

Cortright titled an exhibition last year “ASMR,” after “autonomous sensory meridian response,” which is the tingle some feel at hushed frictional sounds such as shushing or rustling. In their comfy, kinetic intimacy, those videos (for which Cortright became known) elicit ASMR’s visual correlative through scenes depicting cascading hair and solo dancing, blazing sparkly motion trails. Like the whispery ASMR role-play videos that comprise a sizable YouTube community, often aimed at allaying the insomnia aggravated by time online, the current show revels in what relief the medium can offer from itself. Recurrent clip-art icons insinuate liveliness—knotted and unfurling ribbons, promising gift boxes, bats whose fluttering attacks always flaunt animation (as the Lumieres’ arriving train flaunted cinema). Dated graphics and some titles’ tribute to creaky file extensions (kick.rom, du.exe) aside then, the allure of Cortright’s tactile, lyrical images, which revisit landscape, portraiture, and still life, may be their classicism more than technostalgia. While amenable to “post-Internet” speculations, their preoccupation with coming to life was painting’s all along.