Art Now: Petra Cortright

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Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 12.03.52 PM
Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 4.40.38 PM
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“Disinterested delight permeates Petra Cortright's work. She is creating paintings, sculptures, installations, and, increasingly performances. They look and feel abstract but are in essence plainly representational, and what they represent is the experience of intellectual and aesthetic impoverishment, which perhaps is the truth of reality today. By representing this impoverished reality through form, disinterested work wants us to reflect upon the poverty of it all. That is the strange thing about this species of art. It forces us to do a lot of reflecting so that it remains disinteresting to us.”—Paul Chan discussing Cortright’s work in Spike Art Quarterly (2010)

Petra Cortright is the future. A virtual persona—as both the subject and the producer—Petra's work through the webcam captures moments that every girl with an iSight camera can relate to and understand. Petra gazes at herself in the camera, singing her favorite rave song with soft lavender light pulsating in the background, sitting in a hotel room at a desk as it begins to snow, capturing ordinary moments and blasting them with fantasy and beauty.

The artist has turned net art into fine art. A true master of color, pattern and print, her digital paintings know how to touch on every sense.

In Petra's words, “generic dreamy, dream house mood boards, flowers people would like to have at their wedding, exotic travel landscapes, and cityscapes' inspire her world. Expressed through DIY technology, she likes making advanced look easy—all in a cup of shaved ice brightly colored with inspiration from nature, synthetic magic, high fashion, beauty, the future, and the past.

When Stella McCartney discovered Petra's work she was instantly blown away. She told The Cut, “[Petra] represents the next-generation Stella girl to me in every way.” Thus a video collaboration for Stella's AW14 Collection was born. Petra's videos feature high-low roots. She takes landscape inspiration from Sim City to her experience growing up in a house on a hill with mountain views on one side and an ocean view on the other. She never had a proper studio, but she did have a computer at home. From there comes an artist to lead us across the digital tundra and the exotic gardens of fantasy and desire.

—Stacey Nishimoto

Photos courtesy of Petra Cortright.

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