with Laura Berger
Introspective Oil Paintings by Laura Berger Convey Transformation and Protection Through Entwined Bodies
In Chrysalis, artist Laura Berger encapsulates the raw emotional energy of transformation in a soft, subdued color palette of blues and pinks. The solo show on view now at Stephanie Chefas Projects features a collection of oil paintings that center on entwined figures, their bodies protected by each other and their limbs sometimes positioned as shields.
In comparison to Berger’s earlier paintings, this body of work diverges in opacity, with translucent appendages and torsos emerging through other figures. Moonlight or a sheer veil similarly blanket some of the subjects as they huddle together in compact groups. The artist describes the works:
I’m interested in painting as a means to explore what it means to be human, what it means to be alive in this time and connected to each other—all with our own histories, our stories—but sharing in our collective humanity and our ties to what came before us and what will come next. I initially started painting as a therapeutic practice, and that continues to be the foundation for my work: using color as a centering healing tool and a way to sit with different combined energies; using narrative and composition exploration as a way to work through various experiences or memories.
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In Laura Berger’s minimalist paintings, female figures entwine together in abstract formations. Their dark locks flow with the curves of their bodies, which are posed in relaxed, natural stances. Using tight color palettes of muted tones, Berger works mostly in acrylic, although she’s ventured into oil since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’m not sure if it’s related to everything that’s been going on in the world or to the shift in medium itself, but my ideas have been moving in a more narrative direction which has really opened up a lot of new things for me to work with,” she tells Colossal.
The Chicago-based artist (previously) continues to explore themes of identity, community, and connection, in addition to more abstract conceptions of energy and quality of life, throughout her largely geometric body of work. “As a woman, I usually paint from that perspective point, but the figures are really meant mostly to serve as characters through which to explore our collective humanity and shared experience,” she says.
If you’re in New York City, check out Berger’s solo show, which is open from November 21 to December 12, at Hashimoto Contemporary. Otherwise, follow her on Instagram to see her latest considerations of the female experience.
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Multi-disciplinary Laura Berger creates abstract environments and explores universal themes of rituals, nature, and freedom in her portraits of female subjects. Berger works primarily in acrylic on wood panel, but also brings her characters to life in ceramics and large-scale murals. Though the scenes in her paintings vary widely, Berger has developed a signature color palette and minimalist human form that is instantly recognizable.
Her female figures tend to sport dark shoulder-length hair dos, and their sturdy trunks and slender arms fold and fit together with almost Escher-like geometry. Round suns, oversized flowers, and warm-climate plants like palm leaves and cacti are most frequently alongside the women, creating visual touch points and a suggestion of narrative in the otherwise flat fields of background color. Berger explains that she studied theater performance and design, and pursued painting as a personal practice, teaching herself and developing her style on her own. She shares with Colossal,
Finding my current style has been a gradual process that’s evolved over several years of working full time at painting. It’s always changing, though I feel a bit more settled in lately and I think the changes are maybe happening in slower, more subtle ways now. I think styles continue to evolve with the changes in our own selves and lives—the things that happen in our inner world and our outer experience both play a part; getting older affects creative work as we see new things and grow as people.
Berger’s work in on view through December 22, 2018 in her solo show at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco, CA. You can see more of her in progress and finished art on Instagram, and purchase original works, as well as prints, on her website.
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.