A recent study confirmed that watching internet videos of cute animals can reduce anxiety. Where does that leave painting? If the iridescent, pet-filled canvases of Cindy Bernhard are any indication, the medium holds up just fine. Bernhard makes mostly large, complex oil pictures with the compositional care of a Dutch Renaissance interior scene and the style sense of a Millennial crafter. Like in Photoshop or an iPhone screen, everything is super-flat; backgrounds come in shades of airbrushed rainbow gradient; decorative patterns are infinite and overlapping; eighties chic is apparent and unstoppable; aspirational marble table tops make their de rigueur appearance. Living amid these Instagrammable scenes are curious orange tabbies, adorable wrinkly pugs, and plenty other breeds of small pet, lounging on special pillows, staring out from framed photos and, in the case of one cat, showing its little pink butthole. Being of Generation X, some of these juxtapositions confuse my native ability to recognize kitsch and deal with it ironically. I realize, however, that this as my problem, and that it is probably getting in the way of some much-needed stress relief.
—Lori Waxman 2021-04-12 1:23 PM