Mike Berg’s solo show “What days are for – Days are for living in.” opens on May 27, Friday at Galeri Nev Istanbul. Taking its name from the lines of the poem titled Days by Philip Larkin, the exhibition brings together the artist’s metal standing and wall mounted sculptures as well as his bronze prints on handmade paper produced in collaboration with Ruth Lingen of Line Press Limited.
Searching for the potentials of the material, Mike Berg’s artistic production takes its inspiration from the relation between the culture and the craftsmanship, bringing the capacity of abstract expression of the Eastern cultures together with his own artistic foundations. In his process, the artist prefers to rely on the viewer’s innate capacity to interpret the work without describing or implying a particular meaning. Although the simple lines he uses in the abstract geometry seem to repeat each other at times, they actually appear in different variations and construction styles with varying sizes. With the help of digital technology, the artist is able to enlarge, reduce, rotate, compress, expand, and generally make endless variations on initial projects. The spontaneity of a brushstroke in ink then rendered in steel or bronze has reference to Eastern calligraphy and Western abstract painting.
Inspired by artists from different disciplines such as painter Ed Ruscha, musician and composer Thelonius Monk, poet John Ashbery, writer Joan Didion and poet Philip Larkin, Berg enriches his passion for form with intellectual and emotional connections. Identifying himself especially with Didion’s discourses on art and life: “I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it.” he catches the parallelism of this expression with Larkin’s lines that also give the exhibition its name, reflecting the fine line that unites Berg’s inner world and his art in the simplest way.
The bronze embossings on colored handmade paper produced by the artist in collaboration with American master printer and paper maker, Ruth Lingen, creates a new field of experience for the artist. Berg emphasizes that over the years he has made many ink drawings that were transferred into bronze sculptures through a photo etching technique, but although he tried a number of mounting techniques, the results did not fully satisfy him. Seeing Lingen’s handmade papers and particularly impressed by their color, texture, weight and dimensions, Berg tried embossing some of his bronze sculptures onto these different colored papers, intermingling the two different productions and turning them into a single work. The process of the collaboration with Lingen has been very pleasant and the outcome very satisfying for Berg.
Galeri Nev İstanbul can be visited from Tuesday to Saturday, between 11 am – 6:30 pm.