The Only Living Boy in New York
Reception: Wednesday, December 16th, 6 to 8 pm
Exhibition: December 16, 2009 through January 23, 2010
Sloan Fine Art is pleased to present The Only Living Boy in New York,
the New York solo exhibition debut of Dutch artist Chris Berens.
Chris Berens began having visions of the ethereal world he paints when
he was still a child. After graduating from the Academy of Art and Design
in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 1999, he set up makeshift studios in several
semi-abandoned buildings in the countryside near his childhood home and
set out to capture and reproduce the images in his mind. Unable to render
them with any straightforward technique, Berens created his own complex
and time-consuming method.
For each work, the artist begins by painting small scenes and figures
in ink, bistre and varnish on glossy paper. The images remain wet for
days as Berens perfects and repeats them, creating multiple versions of
each image on a page. Once completed, he cuts up each sheet, reserves
the desirable elements and peels away the clear coating layer from the
underlying paper. The remaining semi-transparent images are stacked, layered
and collaged onto panel to create the final work. Each piece is executed
entirely by hand. No digital or photographic elements are used.
The resulting mysterious, soft focus, paintings blend elements of childhood
fantasy and contemporary apocalyptic angst, interjected with lush nods
to aspects, environments and genres of the Dutch masters. Endangered animals
escort mythological creatures across cloudbanks, shimmering as if in a
fevered dream. Beautifully distorted human figures defy the laws of nature
as they float through blurry European cityscapes. Ships manned by unlikely
fisherman, sail on iridescent waters set against epic skies. These works
are bold, layered and complex, yet gentle and inviting.
Chris Berens has exhibited in solo shows at Jaski Gallery in Amsterdam,
Roq la Rue in Seattle and most recently at the Noord Brabants Museum in
's-Hertogenbosch. He lives and works in Amsterdam.
note: The gallery will be closed December 23 to January 3 for the Christmas
“Utopiary,” 2009, 31.5” x 31.5,” ink & lacquers
on paper on panel