With a diverse body of work and a penchant for bygone art, Miami-based artist Christina Petterssonlooks back in order to look forward.
While successful as a performance, video, and installation artist, Pettersson is most renowned for her monumental drawings. With a tendency to reference classical mythology and themes of tragic demise, her drawings are compared to history painting of the past. Portrayals of twisted tree-filled forests, ominous animals, and mysterious figures comprise her drawn oeuvre, which is rendered in graphite and done in scrupulous detail.
In addition to otherworldly themes, her drawings also frequently include self-portraits, a tradition heavily rooted in the time-honoured history of art. Whether nude, positioned as a lounging goddess, or actively interacting with her folkloric surroundings, each likeness alludes to the classical artistic genres that first inspired her.
While self-portraiture is a recurring and key theme in her work, Pettersson does not seek to become the focal point of her drawings. Her intent, rather, rests in narrative:
"I want to restore that epic and mythological dimension, a sense of awe and reverence for the world. The fact is they are not much about my personality. I want to be a storyteller. I want to believe that life is still wild."
This fascination with untamed nature is prevalent in Pettersson’s entire portfolio – namely, The Last Look, a video and installation piece. Inspired by the myth of Persephone, this work is comprised of a short film, projected onto a screen positioned above a three-dimensional scene of wild earth.
Still, even with The Last Look, Pettersson conveys her inherent interest in the past:
“Persephone was allowed to leave the underworld every year, yet every year she had to return. She sees the first sign of light at the end of the tunnel, yet already knows its limits. The darkness will drag her down again. Maybe just one glance backwards. History is full of last looks, stories of people who couldn't help themselves, even when instructed not to turn around. It is so uniquely human to crave that finality. But for someone with such power as Persephone? The opening to the underworld is crystallized by her very breath.”
Ultimately, through her drawings, video art, and installations, Pettersson successfully conjures contemporary pieces that, through past traditions and historical inspirations, “embody a restless spirit, a longing for the unbounded and indefinable, and fervent emotion as the truest source of visual experience.”