For Exhibition 50 we are showcasing a new body of work from gallery artist Sara Bright, intimately scaled frescoes done on portable wooden panels. Much of Bright's work is done in gouache and water media on paper. In an attempt to achieve a similar matte and absorbent quality for her painting, and after much experimentation, she hit upon traditional fresco mural techniques, which incorporate painting with pigments ground into water on a wet plaster ground. The creation of each surface involves the sifting of sand, the mixing of plaster, stretching burlap and then applying 2 to 3 coats of plaster. The final intonico coat must be applied with great care and finesse to get it smooth on all 5 sides. After the intonico is applied, and the actual painting begins, the painting must resolve quickly, but for all her spontaneity, Bright achieves a weighty, sculptural quality with these works, that come across like stone tablets on the wall. Fresco thrives on the tension that arises from using a material that has such an involved preparation but which must be painted swiftly and with confidence, and Bright in turn thrives on the long history of the medium. In her words,
"When most people think of fresco they think of the Renaissance and places like the Sistine Chapel with its incredible frescos of mythological scenes. It's probably unavoidable that people are going to think of that when they come to these. But I think a benefit of that is that the works automatically gain a kind of gravity, which is something I want. These paintings can look playful, but they're very serious. I also think about cave paintings, which are arguably the first frescos, and how all frescos speak to the very fundamental human impulse to capture images with paint."
Sara Bright earned her MFA from the University of California Berkeley and received her BA in Studio Art and English literature from Wesleyan University. In 2010, Sara attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and in 2007 was an artist in residence at Anderson Ranch Art Center. Sara's work has been shown in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles at venues including the Berkeley Art Museum, the SFMOMA Artists Gallery, Verge Gallery, and the UCLA Wight Gallery. In 2009, she was awarded the Calder Hayes / Tevis Jacobs / BAM Council Founders Award from University of California Berkeley.