I have always loved stories. Past work invoked the narrative expectations of genre to reveal a story through a series of paintings. In the vein of shows like True Blood or movies like The Witch, where the American landscape nurtures the fantasies and horrors of cultural myths and history, I set my work in a natural world where drama and hallucination feel rooted in the bones of the place.
Painters like Charles Burchfield or Agnes Pelton fill a leaf or a cloud with narrative presence, and in my work I want the landscape to assert itself as a character alongside people and monsters. Although I look to precedents in literature to help me structure a world, a character, or an imagined event, I don’t try to tell a linear story. The imagery that I currently work with deals in tone rather than in plot. Through installation and the blending of mediums, my work creates a world of moods.
Tess Bilhartz grew up in Dallas, Texas and currently lives and works in New York City. Recent residencies include the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2017), and the Sharpe Walentas Space Program (2013). Solo shows at Arts and Leisure Gallery (2016), 0-0 LA (2017), and Super Dutchess (now Below Grand) Gallery (2020) all explored visual storytelling through the lens of cultural myths and personal experiences.