Selected works by Whitney Bedford

Whitney Bedford
In Deep

2005

Ink and oil on panel

Each panel 122 x 183 cm

Two steam ships sail in apparently opposite directions. Having passed each other, they remain coupled by a strange, luminous swell – a huge wave, a patch of fog, or a spillage perhaps. The horizon effectively eliminated, sky and ocean merge to draw the viewer into their depth. Whitney Bedford’s seascapes, not unlike those of other artists working today such as Cy Twombly and Tacita Dean, return to and reinterpret J.M.W. Turner’s nineteenth-century legacy of the sublime.

Whitney Bedford
Hit

2005

ink and oil on panel dyptich

86 x 122 cm
A tall ship is in distress on a heaving sea, listing dangerously and losing its cargo overboard. The rigging, a fragile, ink-drawn tangle of ropes, is collapsing under the might of waves of incandescent oil paint that pummel its glowing hull from all sides. "Sometimes," the artist has stated, "it is the paint itself that sinks the images." The shipwreck as a motif appears recurrently in Whitney Bedford’s work as a metaphor for a more contemporary squall - the turbulent political and social situation in which we live today.
Whitney Bedford
Two Blue

2005

ink and oil on panel

122 x 183 cm
Two ships fill the picture field, their masts all but obscured by streaks of oil. One sits calmly on the water’s surface as the other, trailing a fog of dark paint, lurches high above it as if in the act of sinking. It is not clear if these are two different ships, one perhaps ramming the other in an act of hostility, or in fact the same single ship portrayed in successive positions as it slips beneath the waves. Whitney Bedford paints such scenes from her own imagined memories of situations, places and events.
Whitney Bedford
Untitled (Carioca)

2005

ink and oil on panel

71.1 x 94 cm
A large sailing ship is ablaze in sight of land. From a wild, apocalyptic sky, burning cinders fall like the residue of spent fireworks, scattering in the water. The palette is one of desperation, emergency, of struggle between the cool blue waves that consume the ship from beneath, and the flaming oranges that lick its sails above. Another, more strategic battle, meanwhile, is being played out in the same composition; the fight between pictorial representation and abstraction that dominates Whitney Bedford’s work.
Whitney Bedford
Untitled (Daylighting)

2005

ink and oil on panel

152.4 x 213.4 cm
Beneath an acrid, chemical yellow sky, a huge surge of cobalt seawater smashes one ship into another. Friend or foe? Marine battle or tragic accident? It is impossible to tell. Working within the historical framework of an classic academic convention, the marine landscape, Bedford uses fierce, disorderly colours and a highly expressive painterly technique to capsize tradition and create hybrid images of great power and emotion.
Whitney Bedford
Untitled (Encontros e Despendidas)

2005

ink and oil on panel

122 x 183 cm
The ghostly apparitions of two tall vessels, pass, quite literally, like ships in the night. A burning streak of orange paint along the water line of one is the only sign of life. Atop a calm, black sea their masts and rigging appear skeletal against a streaky night sky as the boats seem almost to pass through one another. The title of a well-known bossanova folk song, Encontros e Despendidas (’meetings and goodbyes’) provides an appropriately romantic subtitle for this otherworldly composition.

Articles

LEAH OLLMAN "THE RAW POWER OF FULL COLOR,"
Los Angeles Times

Destructive force is palpable in Whitney Bedford's paintings at cherrydelosreyes, but there's something perversely glorious about that power when allied to color and paint. It can be unleashed, and nothing's at stake but a moment's confidence in the everyday veneer of order.
Bedford orchestrates a fine tension between description and delectation. She paints ships pounded by rocky seas, volcanoes spewing liquid fire. Even a placid landscape, like the shoreline in "Red Amazonia," becomes charged with tumultuous energy under her brush.

The sky, a thick lipstick red, bears down upon a bank of trees. The sea, while waveless, is a viscous violet smeared onto the panel, adamantly of the surface yet connoting dreadful dark depths.

Source: www.cherrydelosreyes.com


WHITNEY BEDFORD, SELF- PORTRAIT
Tema Celeste.

“Today, paintings of shipwrecks and battles scenes have once again become an expression of both the importance of passion and despair as well as the passion of despair. They are connected to a hidden, or imagined, imagery of our time. Academia has marked a place in history for naval paintings as much as it has editorialized it. I like coming from this school and trying to update it, or even capsize it, in a way that only a hybrid of educations and living on the edge of the California coast can do. My paintings are battlegrounds on which structures and meanings are torn apart. They start from old academic pictures of battles to form a new, collaged picture. I then utilize this as a base structure on which my process of mark making can further exaggerate or otherwise comments on the image. This vocabulary of drawn and painted marks reclaim the image as something new, something mine. I re-mark the source to remember it. This process creates a dialogue between old and new images- it pulls apart and rebuilds. It's a push and pull between direct depiction, imagination, and memory. Because memory is individual, subconscious, and always shifting, I allow myself to be liberally subjected with my materials”.

Source: www.damelioterras.com


FUTURE GREATS: WHITNEY BEDFORD ARTREVIEW, DECEMBER 2005.


"John Baldessari, artist: Whitney is an inheritor of the gestural brushwork of the abstract expressionists. I'm not sure whether to make deft brush marks is her goal or whether painting ships (often) requires that manner of painting. The effect flips between images of ships (usually in distress) or virtuoso brushwork that suggests that topic. She has a unique sense of color, recently zeroing in on violets and magentas. I like the heroic romantic aura her work emanates."

Source:


FREEMAN, TOMMY. WHITNEY BEDFORD, ARTREVIEW, DECEMBER 2005.


"Images of tall ships on tumultuous seas, in various stages of sinking or running aground, at first might seem more like romantic nostalgia than contemporary interest. But while Whitney Bedford’s recent paintings of imagined maritime catastrophes, rendered with vivid chemical hues, do rely on romance for some of their charge, they also beg questions regarding the status of painting at the moment.
On Bedford’s paintings historic discourses surrounding the medium collide as pictorial representation and abstraction battle for dominance with neither gaining the upper hand. Ships and landscapes are emphatically asserted in some areas and severely obscured others, either by thin washes of paint or under dramatically expressive layers of gestural marks. As such Bedford builds and destroys her images as the paintings seem to disintegrate then solidify from one visual passage to the next.
Bedford’s work suggests that all imagery, whether non-objective, abstract or pictorial is mediated by human experience to the extent that the purely optical and purely representational can never really exist independently, as each will always influence the other.
As testament to this, Bedford acknowledges that her troubled sea-going vessels, volcanoes and acrid landscapes are painted from imagined memories of things, places and events. The objects and scenery she depicts hover somewhere between specificity and loose approximation, thus any nostalgia or romantic fascination generated by her subject matter is always already based on false armatures. And because the imagery has been created, filtered and generated through the artist’s own mechanisms of perception and memory, the results tend towards the surreal. In this sense Bedford’s work exemplifies the real power painting has come to reclaim by an understanding of its ability to convey traces of human experience though an economy of imagery, surface and color. This seems simple enough, but throughout the mid-20th century, painting was put through so many paces (abstract expressionism, post-painterly abstraction, minimalism, etc), each with its own set of rules reified by critical overlay, that at times painting seemed to be more of a critical tool than a discipline.
This exhibition was the first solo debut of Bedford’s work in Los Angeles, and with the exception of the odd placement of the paintings on the gallery walls—they were arranged in clusters are various stages rather than linearly, with one wall left blank and others overcrowded—the work provoked an interesting dialogue in the ongoing discussion about the status of painting. And with the recent rush of galleries trying to cash in on the speculation of recent MFA graduates, Bedford delivered a solid body of work that demonstrated a well-developed sensibility."

Source: Submitted by Philip Martin