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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Besotted with Berens

I've just remembered how madly in love I am with Dutch painter, Chris Berens.

Riders Of The Storm (2008)

Years ago, a gallery owner explained to me that it's the emotional appeal that will draw someone to a piece of art in the first place, but the technical mastery behind the work that sells it.

Berens' works - and heartbreakingly gorgeous characters - are so full of emotion and beauty that I feel that little pang in my chest (the one that has nothing to do with heartburn) when I see them.

Passed (2008)

Various details

Take a look at The Kiss (below). Doesn't it just make you want to climb in and wrap you arms around that darling little polar bear? Also, for an extra *sigh*, take a look in the top right hand corner where the porpoise is completing 'the kiss'.

The Kiss (2008)

And as if that kind of talent isn't enough, Berens has developed a unique technique that defies belief.

In De Raadskelder (2006)

For starters - he uses inkjet paper. Yup....well, sort of.

Lady Of The Dawn (2007)

Next, it's not oil paint that he paints with...

Little Captain Sparrow (2008)'s ink.

Fuck me.

Ink?! That the wishy washy stuff that runs all over the place and looks watercolourly? Apparently not when Berens uses it.

The Whaler, The Ermine And The Bait (2008)

His technique also involves plenty of painstaking cutting, pasting and layering. And not an ounce of computer.

I know I won't do it justice, so for a full explanation of how he achieves this look watch the video of the interview he gave to Kirsten Anderson of Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle.

Graceful Reign (2008)

I'm still gobsmacked.

Check out his site for more of his artwork. And take a look Erratic Phenomena for a superb blog post about his work.

xxx scarlett

PS. On the back of his works (and on his website) there are little surprises - you can find out how to find them in the Erratic Phenomena post. ;)


Alessandra Fusi said...


I'm totally overwhelmed and mermerized by this new discovery!!

Thank you so much for showing this talent on your blog, I fell in love desperately...I feel so small right now...But small in a very enlightened way! :p



Reevo said...

He also has a couple of beautiful books out. I reviewed them a while back -

Emz said...

Those are so cool! Is it wrong to say "cute" to describe those paintings?

Alex. said...

That video is absolutely fascinating. Thanks for posting it! What a remarkable process. I know - ink?!

How about the part where he says he can push the eye around over the plastic? And the layering?! I would LOVE to see one of these in person.

scarlett (kate lightfoot) said...

Emz, I know exactly what you mean about 'wrong to say 'cute''! It just doesn't do the work justice, but the animals are so adorable.

And Reevo - I read your book review last night and immediately got in touch with the gallery . I just have to have them! Thanks for giving some more details about the books - it was really hard to get a good sense of what they were like from the gallery and Berens' site.

xxx scarlett

Kelly said...

Thanks SO much for sharing these Kate.
He is PHENOMENALLY talented. I was watching that video about his process with my mouth hanging open.

His work just looks so wonderfully strange. It actually is so reminiscent of the masters like Vermeer etc, spot on.
They're almost sinister but just so so beautiful.
I'm a bit speechless to be honest! :)

scarlett (kate lightfoot) said...

I love it that he mentions learning by painting over posters of the old masters! Great way to learn.

Ulicam said...

Woow.. those were really interesting, fascinating faces... lovely animals.
I Like.

Ingrid said...

Thank you so much for introducing me to Chris Berens. What an amazing talent! His creatures are completely mezmerising.

Amber said...

A patient man as well.
I love his work. thank you for introducing me!
I can't imagine painting with ink on plastic..
just when you think you've seen it all.
I think I would describe his work as haunting, like a dream, a dream of another time and space.
love it.

Amber said... is it plastic or paper? I'm kind of confused as to what he uses...

scarlett (kate lightfoot) said...

My understanding is that he paints a layer of bistre (which I believe dries into a transparent plasticy material) onto inkjet paper. Then he paints the ink onto the bistre. And when it's all dry he can peel the layer of bistre off the inkjet paper and chop it up and stick it on the wood.

The inkjet paper is ideal because it doesn't absorb well, so the bistre is able to be peeled off in a layer.

That's how it all happens in my head anyway!

xxx scarlett

chunkychooky (Cath) said...

wow! I don't know what to say-the images are kind of cute but also a little bit scary...weird- I don't know the wpord I am looking for but they are also beautiful- and with ink! people are just to clever!I also like how they look hundreds of years old too...

Amber said...

that makes sense ! thank you, Kate.
Although, I still can't imagine doing it myself..

SavageBabble said...

Wow, how come I have never seen this artist before? Those paintings are fabulous!

Manda Jane said...

What an insane technique, I can't believe he came up with something so crazy. Love it! Thanks for posting the video otherwise you just couldn't appreciate the talent.