Born in Ontario, Paul Bernhardt holds a BFA from the NSCAD University and an MFA in painting from Purchase College, State University of New York. He has won a number of awards, most notably the Joseph Beuys Memorial Scholarship while at NSCAD and the Dean’s Scholar Award in both years he attended Purchase College. He has received grant funding at both provincial and national levels. His work has been exhibited in Canada and the United States. Highlights in his exhibition record include Real at the Art Gallery of Alberta, Place-Setting at Supreme Trading in Brooklyn, the 2005 RBC New Canadian Painting Competition at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art and a solo show at Dalhousie University as part of the Emerging Artist Series. He is represented at a number of commercial galleries and his work has been collected in both North America and Europe.
“These works are based on drawings of sites encountered in Edmonton and surrounding areas. I seek structures and environments that I feel in some way echo contemporary life. In the studio, I explore the properties of paint in a variety of ways: acidic saturated colour, gestural marks, line, pouring, spray, additive and subtractive manipulations, are all combined to create a chaotic space that threatens to collapse into abstraction. This push towards abstraction is not pursued as an end in itself, but rather as the means for creating a disconnect between subject and viewer that acts as allegory for our own tenuous relationship with the structures and mechanisms that occupy our environment. As the image moves into abstraction there is the potential for a loss of meaning, or for new meanings to emerge. Recently, I have begun to incorporate enigmatic historical or pop cultural references that occur to me as I work at the site. Ultimately the work explores the tensions between various oppositions: the natural and the synthetic, abstraction and representation, entropy and control.”
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