Vielmetter, Los Angeles
January 14 – February 25, 2023
Vielmetter Los Angeles is thrilled to announce Whitney Bedford: Vedute, the Los Angeles-based artist’s seventh solo exhibition with the gallery. Continuing her exploration of the affective possibilities of historical landscapes, Vedute finds Bedford using scale and repetition to mine the experiential possibilities of painting the land in the twenty-first century. A monumental painting by Bonnard via Bedford is repeated four times. Each repetition refers to a time of day: mid-morning, mid-afternoon, evening. The passage of time is reflected in a shifting palette, the compositions and confrontations between present and past in each work changed only in their color.
From a thicket of frenzied lines and a maelstrom of day-glo hues–as if she mixed her paints with irradiated waste, Bedford conjures haunting, post-pastoral landscapes. From this Chernobyl palette and these skittered marks emerges a lamentation on the loss of our earth, but also a calling out of the ancient pastoral tradition for perpetuating what was always a myth: that we, humans, have ever lived in anything like a balance or concordance with our surrounding world. It is only now, in the age of the Anthropocene, that this fallacy of balance is entirely shattered. Bedford’s newest works wreak havoc on these historical contradictions.
Bedford is an acid-rain romantic, only her landscapes are less odes than omens. The works remain romantic not because they idealize the earth but because they provoke the sublime--what matters is not each wasteland’s beauty but its ability to terrify. Spiritual upheaval becomes ecological dread. Bedford paints the madness of the Age of humans, and madness is what she seeks to inspire.
With her helter-skelter Constables and gonzo Bonnards, Bedford critiques the greater landscape tradition while weaponizing it against our own impoverished reality. Each high-concept hallucination memorializes the parched and invalid land of our time. After all, what better way to satirize or own destruction than to grant it so much false nobility?
Whitney Bedford and Jori Finkel will be in conversation about Bedford’s recent works at the gallery on Saturday, February 18, 2023.