Siri Berg, It’s All About Color
The Painting Center, New York
November 17, 2011 – January 28, 2012
Coinciding with the exhibition Re-Generation, which maps the lasting effect of Josef Albers teaching on three successive generations of painters, is a small but exuberant show of paintings and works on paper by another teacher of color theory, painter Siri Berg.
The exhibition, entitled It’s All About Color, is dominated by three polyptychs, each consisting of progressions of monochrome panels. Though all three share a visual language, their arrangements are varied, and each stakes out its own chromatic territory. Carrie Patterson, who curated both shows, notes that “one set of nine canvases are shown in sequence; the second series is far more playful and invites the viewer to mix and match the canvases in different order where the viewer chooses the orientation and gradation of the series.”
Working in such series is not new territory for Berg. Heli Haapasalo noted in a 2003 review that Berg’s “modular” systems are “a flexible method of creating and combining work, a process by which [her pictures] can each stand apart or join others as an ensemble, with no loss of visual integrity.” In the current exhibition Berg’s signature serial deployment of colored panels results in an optical recreation of the process of mixing color.
Although Berg’s formats and surfaces are cerebral and calculated, she has stated she wishes to “Embrace the Expressionistic!” 1 Conceptual restriction, in Berg’s hands, does add up to exuberant expression and has a painterly feel. Berg’s language of pure color and forms (formats, really) is simultaneously precise and animated. Berg’s works are, thus, a paradox – exuberance born of control.
1 Re-Generation, catalogue essay by Carrie Patterson, p. 45.