Ellen Berkenblit at Anton Kern Gallery

April 21, 2023

EXHIBITION | New York | Anton Kern Gallery is pleased to announce Ellen Berkenblit’s ninth solo exhibition with the gallery, Norton, spanning the first and second floors. This latest hometown presentation of oil paintings and gouache works on paper highlights the artist’s continual engagement with the physicality of painting and her sophisticated understanding of color.

Positioned throughout the first floor space, Berkenblit’s formations of figures in twos and threes stand watch with focused eyes, as if an unspoken mission is afoot. From painting to painting, there are continual leaps in scale and cropping, which keeps any suggestion of narrative at arm’s length. A new alchemy in paint application is also at play: cadmium orange and neon purple scream through sheer earth tones, and innumerable shades of black create a complex atmosphere. These canvases are battlegrounds, with elements of their underlayer histories proudly laid bare. Berkenblit achieves a seductive balance between order and disorder, which makes her work endlessly engaging.

Upstairs is a series of new large-scale gouache on paper works highlighting the calligraphic quality of her line. Here Berkenblit’s confident brushstroke is on full display. In contrast to the layered oil on linen works, the nature of gouache on paper necessitates a more restrained approach. The opacity and fluidity of the paint as brush meets paper gives the images immediacy. Formal similarities emerge amongst the female figures and peacocks, bulbous flowers and tigers. As quickly as they register as recognizable forms, they unravel into sequences of lines, shapes, and patterns that hint at the artist’s unconscious personal code. 'Beauregarde', at over ten feet in length, is the single painting on view on the second floor. Holding the wall across from the works on paper, the viewer is offered a poetic juxtaposition in process.

Ellen Berkenblit: Norton
April 21 - May 26, 2023