AMY BERNSTEIN & PATRICK KELLY // the liminalists

On view October 21–December 4, 2015
Opening reception Sunday, October 25 (2–5 p.m.)

The work of Portland-based artists Amy Bernstein and Patrick Kelly may at first glance seem like formal contradictions. While Kelly's thick layers of graphite depend on countless passes of his hand to achieve their silky depths, Bernstein's colorful compositions herald the immediacy of her gooey medium. And yet, their processes abound in a shared ritualism. Exhibited together at Nationale for The Liminalists, the two may be seen to similarly tease the standard behavior and limits of their given mediums (painting and drawing, respectively) in the attempt to create a new language. For both, the act of creation—rife with introspection and indeterminacy—thrives on the unfamiliar. Their images are disoriented and rebuilt over time, forever questioning the limits and givens of perception.

Specifically, within Bernstein’s practice, painting’s hierarchy of color and composition is routinely upended. Placed in what appear as haphazard configurations upon a slick, white background, her colorful blobs and geometric shapes float unconstrained by the two-dimensional surface. This illusion of randomness and detachment enables Bernstein to orchestrate a pause within her audience. Her sparse works beg the viewer to confront their ideas of a visual status quo. Her palette and layouts, while seemingly accidental, are, instead, deliberate examinations of cultural perception, design, and visual construct.  

Kelly’s Carbon Traces series similarly challenges space in order to manipulate perception. Using hand-cut forms to trace an initial design, he then continues to move the stencil ever so slightly in order to widen the image. The result of this laborious repetition is amorphous and seductive. The graphite that Kelly uses subtly absorbs and reflects light, thereby invigorating the drawing with an atypical sense of sculptural depth. Meanwhile, the line of the individual contour merges through endless reiterations into a new object, a distant, haunted trace of its original state.

Hailing from Atlanta, GA, Portland–based artist and writer Amy Bernstein received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2004. Her work has been exhibited in Portland at Nationale, the Littman Gallery, Portland State University, Car Hole Gallery, Worksound, and Carl & Sloan Contemporary. She has received grants from Creative Capital and the Warhol Foundation in 2010 and from the Regional Arts and Culture Council in 2012. She joined Nationale as a represented artist in the summer of 2015.

Patrick Kelly is a practicing artist living in Portland, OR. He received an MFA from The George Washington University in Washington DC in 2005 and a BFA from East Carolina University in 2001. He has shown in Seattle, WA, New York, NY, and in Portland, OR, at Worksound, Basil Howard Gallery, Half/Dozen, and Autzen Gallery. Kelly’s work is included in collections at the MoMA Library, New York, NY, the Bieneke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale, New Haven, CT, and the Oregon Arts Commission.

The Liminalists reviewed on Noise & Color PDX
The Liminalists previewed in the Willamette Week
Amy Bernstein featured on Women Artists
The Liminalists featured on Sight Unseen


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