In this weekly series, we present artists currently working in our studio. Today, we introduce you to John Berry who does painting and printmaking.
Before starting his residency, John planned to investigate the possibilities of organizing a flat surface, the rules it follows and the opportunities these very rules provide, via printmaking and rug design. In Leipzig, he discovered another source of data: the allotment gardens that surround the city. Though the organization of these tiny rectangles is restricted by a German-ish amount of rules, no two gardens look the same. They display a weirdly shaped but still undeniably high grade of freedom, though it is unclear if this freedom exists in spite of or even because of the rules. It’s unclear what is allowed and what is controlled, what is left free and why.
In John’s paintings, this relation is translated into a controlled set of patterns, strictly arranged like the elements of a rug, but still with a vivid, playful sort of intelligence and humor. Taped edges are set next to spray painted areas, seemingly spacious shapes flip back and forth, accidental marks and blurry colors coexist with geometric structures. The motif is never recognizable enough to become the actual protagonist of the painting; the overall construction of the image is meant to be the protagonist.
All photos by Pilotenkueche