Petra Cortright’s paintings begin as Photoshop files that the artist builds up layer by layer, stroke by stroke. Her methods of mark-making varies from brushes she designs to ones she downloads and jerry rigs. The Los Angeles-based artist spends the majority of her studio time surfing for the right low-res photographs, textures and programs to abstract into her fluid landscape compositions. “The abstraction in my work comes from using really bad quality images,” Cortright says. “I don’t feel bad about ripping shitty things apart. If it is really high definition with beautiful details it feels more precious. Why abstract that? I want to cut up things that aren’t working on their own.”
A painter reminiscent of Helen Frankenthaler, Cortright dilutes her original digital medium to create images that almost seem to glow, that create a space of their own. Printed on linen, aluminum and paper, the labor of Cortright’s research process is hidden by the lightness and deftness of her mark-making.
This January, Cortright will show a suite of new paintings as well as some videos at Ever Gold Projects in San Francisco. Like previous solo exhibitions at Société Berlin and Foxy Production, the artist plans to show her physical and digital works in a straightforward way. “I try to avoid gimmicks,” she says of her exhibition strategy. “I believe work should be able to stand on its own. I’ve never made the kind of work where you need to read an essay to understand it.” When asked what she does want to conjure in her work, her instinctual response deals with integrity and beauty. “I am a sincere person who wants to make sincere work,” she says. “We are in a weird time, where everyone thinks everything has to make some kind of a commentary, and not to say that work isn’t important, but I am okay with making something that is just an escape.”
BY KAT HERRIMAN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JASON SCHMIDT