Artistfacts: Petra Cortright

IMG_1202Artistfacts: Petra Cortright

For the first time this is sort of a timely post as this interesting young artist is currently having a small and delightful show at Foxy Productions 2 East Broadway in New York City until October 8, 2017. Unfortunately for those of you who will want to buy one after learning more about the artist and her work. all but one of the pieces are sold.

Petra Cortright is a young Los Angeles based artist, (born in 1986),  who has been called the Monet of the 21st century. She makes digital paintings, often on aluminum but also linen or plexiglass, combining and layering images and textures sourced online using  a multitude of digital brushes. Though no paint is applied, her work is masterfully painterly. You can definitely see the hand/ mark of the artist.

Her process is intensive and rooted in various art history movements. She is said to work quickly, intuitively which would correspond to Action Painting ( Jackson Pollock). She allows or even encourages the element of chance which would correspond to Fluxus painting (Joseph Beuys). According to a quote in the press release for this show, she has said:” I always try to introduce a somewhat random process into my work.” She has said that she wears gamer glasses when she works as she paints in sessions of abut 12 hours at a time.

The gallery hints at a broader social climate being reflected in her work. In my opinion, her work, in particular those that incorporate kitsch and symbolism,  leave open to the viewer many avenues of interpretation. The layers, substrates integral to her work effectively mask the underlying imagery at the same time as the colorful flowers and “paint” smudges, disorienting perspectives, unrealistic dimensions add an additional sensual layer that distract from what might be hiding below. Different paintings may be versions of one file and include hundreds and hundreds of layers of brushstrokes. Because digital works can be very flat, Petra plays with the substrates, the printing processes to add light and texture. The video works might be viewed as more political, in particulars to the objectification of women and the ubiquity of the internet.


I had not known until writing this that these painterly works are relatively new and that prior to that she was known for her self portrait videos or web cam videos uploaded onto Youtube and her collaboration with Stella McCartney. She also tried her hand at sculpture- but once again playing off the digital world- making the fake real i.e. instead of starting with a real raspberry and making the sculpture from that she starts with a digital photo of a raspberry.



I think as with many a young artist, there is a wide range of quality in her work. Some pieces are phenomenal, others more just pretty pictures. Some of the earlier video works have now been overtaken by the continued expansiveness of the selfie culture.  Time will tell as she matures but I look forward to following her work.