Cortright is a twenty-first century painter using contemporary tools. The Los Angeles-based artist is a celebrated member of a diffuse group known as “post internet” artists, who explore the effect of digital culture on the development of fine art. After a series of critically acclaimed webcam performances distributed on YouTube, the artist consolidated her practice by using Adobe Photoshop to make paintings using brushes and images mined from internet search engines. Her use of platforms like Pinterest subverts traditionally gender normative content such as flowers and interiors, freeing this imagery into expansive digital landscapes. The title of the show is also drawn from search terms used online. A final painting is a captured still from a master file that could be modified endlessly, so while her two-dimensional objects are static, they suggest dynamic change in reference to their source.
“I’ve tried regular painting. I hated it,” Cortright said in a 2015 interview with ARTnews. “It’s really slow and I thought it was the dumbest thing in the world. You can’t copy and paste or undo.” Adobe software can mimic physical painting: virtual brushes can carry multiple colours at once, their hairs can be sized and shaped, and even the paint can vary its wetness. Each work in the show expands our definition of painting: the video animates the artist’s process of building a master file with her invisible digital hand; the sculptures are 2D digital brushstrokes extruded into 3D shapes, which the artist transfers into marble from their virtual existence.
Petra Cortright’s core practice is the creation and distribution of digital and physical images using consumer or corporate softwares. She became renowned for making self-portrait videos that use her computer’s webcam and default effects tools, which she would then upload to YouTube and caption with spam text. Cortright’s paintings on aluminum, linen, paper, or acrylic are created in Photoshop using painting software and appropriated images, icons, and marks. The digital files are endlessly modifiable, but at a “decisive moment” they are translated into two-dimensional objects. They become finite, yet their range of motifs and marks, and their disorienting perspectives and dimensions suggest dynamic change.
Petra Cortright lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She studied Fine Arts at Parsons School of Design, The New School, New York, NY (2008) and the California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA (2004). Selected exhibitions include: "Electronic Superhighway,” Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2016); The Metabolic Age, MALBA, Buenos Aires, Argentina; "On YouTube. Kunst und Playlists aus 10 Jahren,“ Kunsthaus Langenthal, Switzerland; "Im Inneren der Stadt," Künstlerhaus Bremen, Germany; Ural Industrial Biennial, Ekaterinberg, Russia (2017); 1301PE, Los Angeles; City Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand (both solo, 2017); Carl Kostyál, London, UK (solo, 2016); Ever Gold Projects, San Francisco (solo, 2018 and 2016); Depart Foundation, Los Angeles (solo, 2015); Foxy Production, New York, NY (solo, 2017 and 2015); Société, Berlin, Germany (solo, 2014 and 2016); Frieze Film, Frieze London, UK; 12th Bienniale de Lyon, France (both 2013); Preteen Gallery, Mexico DF (solo, 2011), and the Venice Bienniale (2009).
Nahmad Projects is a contemporary art space in Mayfair founded by Joseph Nahmad to champion contemporary artists and innovative curatorial concepts.