Yves Berger: For Other Eyes
Many of Yves Berger’s extraordinary paintings start out in a similar way: one of Berger’s friends or his family marks a canvas with his or her own painted body and leaves an imprint. The canvas is then stretched on a frame, and Berger gauges whether it presents an idea or impulse straining to be expressed. If it does, he begins to paint; there are many false starts, and articulating that impulse may take years of work and rework. The process is led not so much by Berger’s conscious intention, but by suggestion, trial and experimentation. Most of his paintings depict human forms, often nude. The figures evolve with each successive layer of paint: heads shrink in size then turn to skulls; knees and elbows turn in at unexpected angles; the wing of a nostril broadens, the glow on a supine figure becomes a sunrise over a plain.
Many of these paintings celebrate the human body: its strength and vitality; how we begin and how some of us may end. Some feel like meditations on birth and death, while others evoke revenants from a world beyond death. When he speaks of the success of a painting Berger talks about the critical moment when he becomes aware of “apparition”, or the painting becomes a “presence.” “They come towards me, these figures,” he explains, “showing me how they want to be.”
Take, for example, Berger’s Moonlight Figure: like all the paintings in this exhibition it has been painted not from life, but from marks and signs on a canvas. Great contoured wings curve down from its arms like the concave hull of a boat. He is apparently being borne backwards, away from the viewer into a realm of shining darkness, a realm not of the past, or of the future, but that place from which dreams and ideas arise.
The Art Space Gallery in London will present a selection of Berger’s new work from September 18 to October 16. For more information, visit artspacegallery.co.uk
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