Whitney Bedford

Region: Pacific Coast

My paintings negotiate the territory between portrait and landscape—a realm where forces of nature collide between the personal and political. I use iconic portraits of historical figures, shipwrecks, utopian images of Arcadian landscapes, photos of Mars and fireworks as a visual lexicon within which I negotiate the legacy of historical painting within the exigencies of contemporary life. The metaphors and visual symbols in my practice form a rich and potent landscape from which to map the historical and the romantic.

Currently, I am working on a series of paintings, The Left Coast, that reconsiders the idea of the Western frontier as a stage where the mythos of exploration and manifest destiny are reenacted through familiar characters from the Southern California landscape: cacti and palms. The composition of these new landscapes is subtly modeled on formal details found in historical representations of the American landscape. Rendered in reflective gold against planes of deep blues, this is not a landscape to be conquered and developed but one that is autonomous, self-contained, and almost impenetrable.