Alexander Berggruen exhibits works by Katherine Bradford, Hulda Guzmán, and Rebecca Ness
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Alexander Berggruen exhibits works by Katherine Bradford, Hulda Guzmán, and Rebecca Ness
Katherine Bradford, Pool Side, 2019. Acrylic on canvas, 68 x 80 in. (172.7 x 203.2 cm.).

NEW YORK, NY.- Alexander Berggruen is presenting its second exhibition: Katherine Bradford, Hulda Guzmán, Rebecca Ness.

The three artists in this exhibition, each of different generations and living far apart from one another, are acutely aware of the contemporary moment — each one describing it visually in a highly individualistic way. They explore the intricacies of everyday life, portraying figures at work, in repose, and, in a few cases, as represented through their belongings and environments. They each approach what it is to be an artist, aiming to tell an untold story. Katherine Bradford has noted: “My figures are recognizable as people; their place is fantastical.” In contrast, Rebecca Ness provides a more believable portal into her life; she offers a concrete, intimate view of her surroundings. Hulda Guzmán in some ways exists as a bridge between these two artists, integrating both real members of her family and their “imaginary friends” into her compositions. All three artists give us an intimate view of how they put paint on canvas and express the life around them; they do so in intriguingly different ways.

As has been stated about Katherine Bradford’s work, and as is the case in the examples included within this exhibition, “Figures are held in a tense relationship with the rectangle of the canvas, but they can also drift as if escaping the boundaries of that rectangle; or perhaps they are simply indifferent to those confines.” (1) Bradford’s subjects certainly carry our wonder beyond the limits of each painting. In Waterfall, there exists a harmony between the fervent green textured background enveloping its figures and the more delicate and momentary action of one figure’s toe dipping into a small circle of water. Writers balances its geometric composition of strong horizontal bands with the action of its narrative: two writers working on laptops, while a rather mysterious figure in the upper register exerts an almost magical force of white light upon the figure closest to the foreground.

Hulda Guzmán’s works depict both real and invented figures, weaving together elements of the artist’s surroundings in the Dominican Republic and complex narratives. Guzmán lends a meticulous approach to the rich and lively interplay between her subjects, drawing on the art historic canon, while expressing a fresh read on nature, sexuality, and human interaction. “Influenced by the rich symbolism of Mexican altarpieces and the naively inventive ex-voto paintings of Mexican folk art, Hulda Guzmán is a storyteller.” (2) Guzmán’s triptych wednesday morning brings to life the lush environment of her studio surroundings, here inhabited by members of her family and mythical beings that indeed seem to belong to story or even fairytale. Upon close inspection, knots on the central tree’s trunk contain eyes, peering at us as our own eyes wander amidst the painting’s fact and fantasy.

Rebecca Ness’s works within this exhibition explore portraiture and the paraphernalia of domestic and artist-studio life. Whether a figure is present, partially present, or entirely absent from a composition, we feel an intimacy with the human experience that Ness relates. “Ever perceptive, Ness shifts from how the inner self transmits outwardly to focusing on how everyday habits and external language project mood and message.” (3) Frustration shows the artist’s working environment, layered with art historical references via the books she has strewn about the table. For instance, we see Philip Guston’s painting Source from 1976 on the cover of a book tucked behind the artist’s own reflection in the mirror. We take part in a captured moment, from the artist’s own vantage, as she approaches a self-portrait.

Katherine Bradford (b. 1942, New York, NY) received a BA from Bryn Mawr College (PA) and an MFA from State University of New York (Purchase, NY). Bradford’s work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions at galleries including Canada (NY), Campoli Presti (London and Paris), Galerie Haverkampf (Berlin), Adams and Ollman (Portland, OR), Galleria Monica De Cardenas (Milan), Sperone Westwater (NY), and at institutions including The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (TX), Sarah Moody Gallery of Art (Tuscaloosa, AL), and Bowdoin College Museum of Art (Brunswick, ME), to name a few. Bradford’s work has also been included in group exhibitions at Grimm Gallery (NY), JTT (NY), Peter Freeman (NY), Pace Gallery (NY), Monica De Cardenas (Zuoz, Switzerland), Night Gallery (LA), and at Colby College Museum of Art (Waterville, ME), Crystal Bridges Museum (Bentonville, AK), Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (Kansas City, KC), and The Brooklyn Museum (NY), among others. Bradford’s work is included within the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY), The Brooklyn Museum (NY), Dallas Museum of Art, (TX), Portland Museum (ME), Menil Collection (Houston, TX), and the Portland Art Museum (OR). Bradford has taught at the Yale School of Art (New Haven, CT), Skowhegan (ME), Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the Fashion Institute of Technology (NY).

Hulda Guzmán (b. 1984, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) received a BA from Altos de Chavón School of Design in the Dominican Republic and Parsons School of Design in New York, and went on to study photography and mural painting at the National School of Visual Arts, Mexico. Her work is included in the permanent collections of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, Centro Leon Jimenes, Casa Cortes Foundation, Antonio Murzi Collection, and Kadist Foundation. Guzmán has been featured in the Dominican Republic’s pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Guzmán has shown with Dio Horia Gallery (Mykonos), Arte BA (Buenos Aires), Galería Machete (Mexico City), Gallery Ariane Paffrath (Dusseldorf), and at institutions such as Museo de Arte Moderno (Santo Domingo), the Pérez Art Museum Miami, Museo de Arte de Săo Paulo (Brazil), Museo de Arte y Diseńo Contemporáneo (Costa Rica), and Art Museum of the Americas (Washington, D.C.). Four paintings by Guzmán are presently on view at the Pérez Art Museum Miami.

Rebecca Ness (b. 1992, Salem, MA) received a BFA from Boston University and an MFA from the Yale School of Art. She has had residencies at Salon Nino Mier (Cologne, Germany), the New York Studio School Drawing Marathon with Graham Nickson, and The Chautauqua Institution (Chautauqua, NY), among others. Ness has exhibited at 1969 Gallery (NY), Monya Rowe Gallery (NY), Yale Slifka Center for Jewish Life (New Haven, CT), New Release Gallery (NY), Richard Heller Gallery (LA), Gildar Gallery (Denver, CO), Danese/Corey Gallery (NY), Agency Gallery (NY), Readywipe Gallery (Holyoke, MA), 808 Gallery at Boston University (MA), Brilliant Champions Gallery (NY), and The Cooper Union (NY). Ness has been awarded the Jane Chermayeff Scholarship from The New York Studio School, the Karin and Melvin Johnson Scholarship from The Chautauqua Institution, the Constantin Alajalov Scholarship from Boston University, and the Wilhelmina Denning Jackson Scholarship for the Arts and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Scholarship, to name a few.

(1) Karen Wilkin, “When the Swimmers Climb Out of the Water” in Paintings: Katherine Bradford, Canada, New York, 2018, p. 16.
(2) Leila Hasham in Tom Melick and Rebecca Morrill, eds., Vitamin P3: New Perspectives in Painting, New York, 2016, p. 124.
(3) Sasha Bogojev, “‘Twice Over’: Rebecca Ness’ NYC Debut @ 1969 Gallery” in Juxtapoz, 19 August 2019.

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