Night and Day - Whitney Bedford

16 April - 20 May 2015 Taymour Grahne Gallery

Taymour Grahne Gallery is pleased to announce Night and Day, a solo-exhibition of new paintings by Los Angeles-based artist Whitney Bedford. In this most recent body of work, layered ink drawing interacts with and is subsumed by oil paint to form volatile, mercurial compositions. 


Her concern is with the sublime, as Edmund Burke explores it in “A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful” (1757), describing the sublime as a physiologically related response to phenomena, referring to it as an instinct of self-preservation. Beauty needs light, but intense light or its absence (darkness) brings you to the Sublime and its obliterating power. The Beautiful, according to Burke, is what is well formed and aesthetically pleasing, whereas the Sublime is what has the power to compel and destroy us.


Looking to the legacy of romanticism and academic pictures by the likes of J.M.W. Turner, who approached the subject of the sublime in his painting “through juxtapositions of dark and light, obtrusive facture and subtle blending effects, combined with energetic centrifugal and vortex configurations and exaggerated distortions of scale,” Bedford’s landscape paintings activate a formal language that avoids precise definition, instead using paint to hint at the terrifying and awesome.


Bedford uses the landscape as a point of departure, a veritable still life crossing into disaster, as evidenced in her silently sinking iceberg, Black Diver. The motion of the paint pulls adrift the lonely iceberg into a negative sea, slipping into an abstract tableau. In Lala Land (Twin Sunset) the painter shifts the perspective of the landscape’s impending doom, its palette shakily gloaming in the darkness. The familiar California vista vibrates in a serene and beautiful moment before blackout. Finally, Bedford’s newest work addresses the desert landscapes of her adopted environment in a sublime exactness, with detailed, almost x-ray drawing overcome by the bluntly highlighted paint. The works embody contradictions of dark and light, of the real and imagined, becoming dangerous and serene.

Bedford received her MFA at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2003. She was the winner of the 2001 UCLA Hammer Museum Drawing Biennale and received a Fulbright Graduate Fellowship from Hochschule der Kuenste, Berlin. She has had solo exhibitions at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles; Cherrydelosreyes Gallery, Los Angeles; D’Amelio Terras Gallery, New York; Art Concept, Paris, and Starkwhite, Auckland, New Zealand. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles.


Bedford’s works are in several prominent collections, including: Jumex Collection, Mexico City, Mexico; De La Cruz Collection, Miami, Florida, USA; The Saatchi Collection, London, England; Francois Pinault Collection, Paris, France; Eric Decelle Collection, Brussels, Belgium; Collection Ginette Moulin/Guillaume Houze, Paris, France.


[1] Alison Smith, ‘The Sublime in Crisis: Landscape Painting after Turner’, in Nigel Llewellyn and Christine Riding (eds.), The Art of the Sublime, January 2013,