Katherine Bernhardt - New Now Hong Kong Friday, March 29, 2024 | Phillips
  • “I tend to like pink, and shades of pinks and lavenders are some of my favourite colours.  I painted the back of my new house in a couple of different shades of pink, I wear a lot of pink t-shirts, I planted a lot of cherry blossoms in my backyard that are currently pink, I always wear the same shade of matte pink lipstick, I am drawn to the Pink Panther probably because of its pinkness, and I like to paint the Pokémon Ditto because Ditto is a pink slob who morphs into different pink shapes.  Pink is a warm and fun colour for me.” 
     — Katherine Bernhardt


    Executed in 2019, Green is a striking example of Missouri-born, Brooklyn-based Katherine Bernhardt’s electric and playful aesthetic. The artist presents a canvas that is a playground of visual stimuli, capturing the lushness and exuberance of the tropics juxtaposed with the urban cool of graffiti art. Bursting onto the contemporary art scene with her thickly-painted portraits of magazine models, she is inspired by African fabrics which then potentially influenced her approach to large-scale paintings. One of her most referenced characters is the Pink Panther cartoon, whom she began painting after a surreal trip to Hawaii. Arriving at the Pink Palace Hotel, she noticed an enormous sculpture of King Kamehameha I, the Hawaiian warrior leader, draped in enormous hot pink orchid leis. The hotel offered pink towels, pink sheets, pink sleeping masks, pink carpeting, pink beach chairs, pink beach towels, pink stationery, pink sunsets, pink pancakes, as well as the Pink Panther on TV.



    Installation view of the present work (left), Katherine Bernhardt, GOLD, Art OMI, 16 March – 18 May 2019. Image: Bryan Zimmerman. Courtesy Art Omi, Artwork: © Katherine Bernhardt



    The seemingly random arrangement of forms belies a careful choreography of colour and shape. Bernhardt's use of negative space and unorthodox colour combinations push the boundaries of traditional figure painting. The dripping and merging of colours in Green convey a sense of motion, as if the painting itself is in a state of becoming, never quite fixed or finished. This fluidity is a hallmark of Bernhardt's style, reflecting the constant flux of popular culture and fashion that inspires her. The Pink Panther, detached from its cartoon origins, becomes an icon of both nostalgia and modernity, embodying the transitory nature of the things we hold dear.


    Unique to Bernhardt, however, is her ability to quickly create spray paint compositions with washes of acrylic that are fluid, thoughtful, and above all, unabashedly fun. Bernhardt says she paints ‘on the floor so [she] can use lots of liquid and so that it doesn’t drip, it pools instead.’ The artist particularly loves the rivers and pools the technique renders, creating softer edges, gradients, and a sense of movement in her paintings. Her work breaks down the barriers between the traditional art world and the realm of popular culture, creating pieces that are accessible, relatable, and filled with a sense of joy and irreverence. Bernhardt's Green is a celebration of colour, pattern, and popular imagery, inviting viewers into a world where art is both playful and profound.



    Katherine Bernhardt, stuck in a maze, 2019. Artwork: © Katherine Bernhardt
    Sold by Phillips New York for USD107,905, 16 May 2023



    • Provenance

      Art Omi, New York
      Phillips, Hong Kong, 7 June 2021, lot 127
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      New York, Art Omi Gallery, Katherine Bernhardt: GOLD, 16 March – 18 May 2019

    • Artist Biography

      Katherine Bernhardt

      American • 1975

      Katherine Bernhardt, whether in her paintings or make-shift Moroccan rugs, is rapt by neons and geometries. The artist, who works in New York, takes an almost hasty-flick of a brushstroke that lands as a jagged architectural form — figures cut in space and in buzzing colors that leave a mental trace.

      Seemingly each month, multiple galleries, museums or art fairs across the world exhibit Bernhardt's large-scale fantasies and rug-centric installations, as seen in 2017 at Art Basel and with a solo retrospective at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth. "I think the best painters don't intellectualize their own art—they just make stuff," she says; but with sharks circling trash in the water in today's climate, as is depicted in Sharks, Toilet Paper and Plantains, it's not hard to see Bernhardt's deeper meanings. 

      View More Works



signed and dated 'Katherine Bernhardt 2019' on the reverse
acrylic and spray paint on canvas
243.8 x 304.8 cm. (95 7/8 x 120 in.)
Executed in 2019.

Full Cataloguing

HK$700,000 - 1,000,000 

Sold for HK$736,600

Contact Specialist

Angela Tian
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now Sale
20th Century & Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
+852 2318 2058

New Now

Hong Kong Auction 29 March 2024