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Bedford Paintings at Starkwhite

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Whitney Bedford, The Gold Girl, ink and oil paint on panel. Photo: Euan Bedford Whitney Bedford, The Hideaway, ink and oil paint on panel. Photo: Euan Bedford Whitney Bedford, Echec D'Or, ink and oil paint on panel. Photo: Euan Bedford Whitney Bedford, Hot Wind Moving Fast, ink and oil paint on panel. Photo: Euan Bedford Whitney Bedford, In the Shadows, ink and oil paint on panel. Photo: Euan Bedford Whitney Bedford, The Echo, ink and oil paint on panel. Photo: Euan Bedford Whitney Bedford, The High Lookout, ink and oil paint on panel. Photo: Euan Bedford

The combination of smeared and sweeping, energetic brush marks and delicate descriptive clusters of inked lines and dots works well on a flat, high keyed background. These panels are unabashedly illustrative, but embrace turmoil (in the brazenly slickest sense) as well. Very knowing, but not so flippant that it all becomes a lark.

Auckland

 

Whitney Bedford
Lost and Found

 

15 March - 9 April 2016

This is the third Auckland exhibition by LA artist Whitney Bedford, presenting paintings of clippers sailing in turbulent seas - a metaphor for her own emotional inner life - and in other works, the distinctive details and outlines of Californian vegetation. She works with flat pastel backgrounds, intricately detailed botanical textures rendered on top in India ink, and sweeping gestural, brushed on marks, made over the ink in oil paint: with carefully chosen inked areas peeking through. Bedford‘s landscape images tend to be calm and occasionally moody, while the nautical scenes are usually drama filled and frenetically restless.

The combination of smeared and sweeping, energetic brush marks and delicate descriptive clusters of inked lines and dots works well on a flat, high keyed background. These panels are unabashedly illustrative, but embrace turmoil (in the brazenly slickest sense) as well. Very knowing, but not so flippant that it all becomes a lark. They are very much about fluid or sticky substances that are pleasurable to manipulate on boards, as much as constructing images to generate stirring feelings in the viewer. There’s a sense of ironic distance built in too.

In this show the two stormy sailing ship scenes are painted (and drawn) on softly shiny metallic gold fields. The late afternoon sky and water reflections glow. The works really are driven by the act of drawing, though they also exude the greasy pleasures of brush-applied oil paint. You could call them either drawing or painting, or both - unless you believe drawings must go on to a paper support, and paintings on to a panel or canvas. As working processes either can involve speed and spontaneity or meticulous preplanning.

Bedford‘s descriptive inked-in botanical details include angular spiky lines and bundles of dotted seedpods, blended with thin straight oil-painted branches and circular gestural swirls of scruffy desert vegetation. Sometimes there are stacked pastel lines of thickly painted horizon, foils to the exploding inked leaf configurations on the skyline. Her inventive line positioning keeps the pictorial graphics lively, for the illustrations are strongly abstract in their formal manipulation, and full of compositional surprises.

The mixing and juxtaposing of these two linear approaches to mark making, texture production, spatial depth and vector or compositional alignment is what makes these works fascinating. They are so well integrated that you develop a sense that both processes are absolutely necessary in order to reach a satisfying co-existing fusion for these paintings. That without both methods together the images would fall flat.

John Hurrell

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