Petra Cortright Blends Technology With a Brush Stroke

Petra Cortright Blends Technology With a Brush Stroke

As featured in V112, Petra Cortright is an artist combining digital innovations with traditional techniques to create work on the cutting edge.

As featured in V112, Petra Cortright is an artist combining digital innovations with traditional techniques to create work on the cutting edge.

Text: Alexandra Pechman

This spread appears in the pages of V112, on newsstands now. Order your copy now at vmagazineshop.com.

Petra Cortright’s studio, in a small upstairs room of her Altadena, California, home contains only a desk topped with three huge computer monitors, where she exclusively makes her work. On the wall hangs one of her recent paintings, a drippy, kaleidoscopic distortion of layered images sourced from the Internet, printed on aluminum. Though her paintings rely on technology, “I don’t want to be a programmer,” Cortright says. “I have much more of a painter’s brain.”

Cortright, who grew up in Santa Barbara, first broke out as an artist with videos using filters that she found on the Internet. She now makes paintings using a similar method, gathering images that catch her eye, and assembling and de-assembling them in Photoshop. Her work has garnered her a number of high-profile collaborations, including making videos for Stella McCartney and, most recently, designing a Google Artworks case for the company’s new Pixel phone. Naturally, both collaborators found her online.

“Anything that’s on a computer, I know I can manipulate it,” Cortright explains. “Painting seems unnecessary. Why do that when you have so many things available? It just feels kind of archaic.”

To demonstrate, Cortright opens a painting in progress on her computer, still “a baby,” made up of several layers, each of them slices of images of Julian Schnabel’s ex-wife’s kitchen. Cortright describes her process as “breaking down photography” found primarily via Pinterest or Google Images. She works on up to hundreds of layers before printing the result to canvas. She became particularly interested in Pinterest images since “it’s so gendered,” she says. “It’s about women’s dreams: wedding, dream house. Those things are always marginalized.”

Currently, Cortright has a show at Ever Gold Projects in San Francisco, and is preparing for another at BANK in Shanghai alongside her husband, the painter Marc Horowitz. Of her computer-generated process, Cortright says, “Everything is really quick—if you don’t like it, you can just delete it.” Despite her affinity for the speed and adaptability the web affords, Cortright admits, “I do get nostalgic for a time when the Internet was more mysterious.”

Petra Cortright, Celebrity Addresses/Fiji Firing Tour Squad, 2017, Digital painting on anodized aluminum, 73 x 144 in, Courtesy the artist
2017, Digital painting on anodized aluminum, 73h x 144w in
2017, Digital painting on anodized aluminum, 73h x 144w in
2016, Digital painting on Belgian linen, 72h x 47w in
2016, Digital painting on Sunset Hot Press Rag paper, 60 x 40 in
Credits: PORTRAIT BY MIWAH LEE

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