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.
WHITNEY BEDFORD, SELF- PORTRAIT
â€śToday, 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 materialsâ€ť.
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."
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 Bedfordâ€™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 Bedfordâ€™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.
Bedfordâ€™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 artistâ€™s own mechanisms of perception and memory, the results tend towards the surreal. In this sense Bedfordâ€™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 Bedfordâ€™s work in Los Angeles, and with the exception of the odd placement of the paintings on the gallery wallsâ€”they were arranged in clusters are various stages rather than linearly, with one wall left blank and others overcrowdedâ€”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."
Submitted by Philip Martin