Continuing with Halloween, for your delectation ….
Chris Berens is a Dutch painter. I first saw his work in Amsterdam, but he’s since done exhibitions in New York too. That’s good to know: he deserves all the recognition he gets.
Berens may seem to come a little out of left-field, but I can see two clear influences, melded beautifully together.
The first is his fellow-countryman Heironymous Bosch, so beloved of hippies and stoners in the 60s. Surreal landscapes, animals and images appear in both their works, equally effectively.
The second is film, and I mean 35mm film, not moving stories shot on digital video. Apart from the distinctive colour palettes, one of the things that makes 35mm so viscerally recognisable,
atmospheric and emotional is – paradoxically – a technical limitation. Look at a film – lots of stuff is out of focus. The depth of field is adjusted to be sharp on the things to which you are paying attention, and everything else is dreamily fuzzy. Ditto Berens paintings.
The human eye/brain combo works the same. We experience creates sharp, highly coloured images in the centre of our vision where we’re paying attention, but we have fuzzier images – conceptual bookmarks, if you like – at the periphery. (Here’s some interesting stuff on it by Milner & Goodale). Perhaps we read Berens’ dreamily out-of-focus elements as belonging to the subsonscious, more than the conscious worlds.
Do visit his website for more.