María Berrío - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Thursday, June 30, 2022 | Phillips

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  • 'My work grapples with the ambiguous and unknowable aspects of life. I hope that the beauty in the work allows you to see the beauty in the difficult and gives you a reason to try.' —María BerríoBased in Brooklyn, Colombian artist María Berrío’s large-scale collaged canvases offer compellingly beautiful scenes suffused with a sense of magic and musicality, lending them a dream-like quality as ephemeral and delicate as the materials used in their execution. Highly typical of her artistic process, the variegated surface of The Riders II is built up in layers of carefully cut pieces of delicate handmade and brightly coloured Japanese paper to which the artist has added touches of acrylic, watercolour, and gold leaf, creating a sense of movement and harmony especially well-suited to the subject here.

     

    Dream and Reality

     

    Fantastical and whimsical in equal measure, The Riders II depicts an idyllic scene of prelapsarian bliss, the titular riders perfectly at one with the abundant natural world and the marvellous creatures they share it with. Set against the shifting blue band of the river behind them, four statuesque figures balance elegantly on the backs of playful pink elephants, stretching to reach the abundant flora and fauna from the canopy above them. Blending the real and the imaginary, Berrío synthesises a range of art historical influences, touching especially on a legacy of Latin American Surrealism pioneered by the likes of Frida Kahlo and Leonora Carrington, who demonstrated a similar interest in the rich interconnectedness of women to abundant natural and animal worlds, and myth.

     

    Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait Dedicated to Dr Eloesser, 1940, Private Collection. Image: Album / Alamy Stock Photo, Artwork: Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, DF/DACS 2022
    Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait Dedicated to Dr Eloesser, 1940, Private Collection. Image: Album / Alamy Stock Photo, Artwork: Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, DF/DACS 2022

     

    Drawing on memories of the luscious mountain world rich with plants and animals of her native Bogotá alongside memories of the stories that her grandparents told her, Berrío’s work takes on compelling narrative dimensions that seamlessly weave the fantastic into the everyday, filtered through layers of time and memory in a manner that critics and the artist herself have likened to the workings of Magical Realism and the writings of Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende. Just as the artist must filter her own experiences through a layers of time and memory, she finds herself similarly drawn to  ‘South American folktales and symbolism because they are created by people seeking order, meaning, and hope […] to understand life and create meaning.’i

     

    An accomplished storyteller herself, Berrío draws on Latin American literary history as much as the global craft traditions developed historically by communities of women in these staggeringly complex paper assemblages. As with the processes involved with traditional quilt-making, Berrío’s use of multiple textures and fragments speaks eloquently to ideas around memory, dream, and narrative, and the peculiar way in which her works seem capable of ‘cutting through time and the unconscious’ in a manner that recalls the languid scenes of Henri Rousseau’s exotic canvases.ii

     

    Henri Rousseau, Exotic Landscape, 1910, Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena. Image: Bridgeman Images
    Henri Rousseau, Paysage exotique (Exotic Landscape), 1910, Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena. Image: Bridgeman Images


    Included in Berrío’s exhibition Of Dreams and Hurricanes presented at Praxis International Gallery in New York in 2012, The Riders II shares in the kaleidoscopic richness that has become so characteristic of the artist’s work. Gently breaking down distinctions between figure and ground, a sense of intricately fractured pattern moves fluidly through the composition, recalling the complex details, heightened palette, and undulating forms of Gustav Klimt’s most absorbing and immersive works. Advocating a kind of magical thinking, Berrío’s fusion of narrative, fantasy, and allegory in here is consistent with the artist’s distinctive mode of worldbuilding, and her creation of utopian spaces populated primarily by female figures who ‘are imaginary but intimately felt’, at once closely connected to nature and capable of transcending this material realm.iii

    'The women who inhabit my paintings are embodied ideals of femininity […] These are the women I want to be: strong, vulnerable, compassionate, courageous, and in harmony with themselves and nature.'
    —María Berrío

     

    [LEFT] Gustav Klimt, Die Mädchen (The Girls), 1913, Narodni Galerie, Prague, Czech Republic. Image: akg-images [RIGHT] Detail of the present work
    [LEFT] Gustav Klimt, Die Mädchen (The Girls), 1913, Narodni Galerie, Prague, Czech Republic. Image: akg-images
    [RIGHT] Detail of the present work

     

    As well as Klimt’s stunningly detailed and dream-like compositions, Berrío’s intricate, paper-based works also recall the individuated dots of pure colour used to such powerful optical effect in Pointillism, the Neo-Impressionist movement spearheaded by Georges Seurat and Paul Signac in the late 1880s. Balanced lightly on the backs of the elephants here, the figures in The Riders II nod playfully to Seurat’s 1891 La Cirque, moving the action from the closely contained and artificial space of the ring to a more expansive, natural environment that recall the intense chromatic juxtapositions of Henri Cross’ Arcadian scenes. Visually recalling Cross’s own mosaic of brushstrokes, Berrío’s intricate paper patchworks have more recently taken this allusion a step further, her designs reimagined in the fourteen glass, ceramic, and enamel mosaic installations now permanently installed at Fort Hamilton Subway Station, Brooklyn. Layered with colourful patterns and folkloric imagery, in these mosaics Berrío wanted to focus on the idea of the journey itself as a space of infinite possibility, beauty, and magical potential.

     

    Henri Edmond Cross, L’air du soir (Evening Air), 1893, Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Image: Bridgeman Images
    Henri Edmond Cross, L’air du soir (Evening Air), 1893, Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Image: Bridgeman Images

     

    Collector’s Digest

     

    • Awarded the prestigious Joan Mitchell Fellowship in 2021, Berrío’s work can be found in major international institutions, including the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the Yuz Museum, Shanghai.

     

    • Testifying to the artist’s meteoric rise to critical acclaim, Berrío received a solo presentation with Victoria Miro Gallery at Frieze Los Angeles this year, on the heels of her major survey debut María Berrío: Esperando mientras la noche florece (Waiting for the Night to Bloom) mounted at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach in 2021.

     

    • Berrío’s work is currently on view as part of the highly anticipated group exhibition Women Painting Women at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Florida.


    i María Berrío, quoted in Amanda Quinn Olivar, Curator, July 2019, online.  
    ii Adrian Horton, ‘Like magical realism: María Berrío on her surreal collages’, The Guardian, 20 June 2021, online
    iii María Berrío, quoted in Amanda Quinn Olivar, Curator, July 2019, online

    • Condition Report

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    • Video

      María Berrío ‘The Riders’ | London | June 2022

      Blending the real and the imaginary, María Berrío uses collage to create stunning utopian spaces where her fantastical figures exist in perfect balance with nature. Layers of delicately cut handmade Japanese paper combine with fabric, leaves, acrylic and gold leaf to create a harmonious sense of movement.

    • Description

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    • Provenance

      Praxis International Art, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      New York, Praxis International Art, Of Dreams and Hurricanes, 9 February - 17 March 2012

Property of an Esteemed American Collector

6

The Riders II

signed, titled and dated ‘the Riders II. 02/12 Maria Berrio.’ on the reverse
mixed media collage on canvas
121.9 x 152.4 cm (47 7/8 x 60 in.)
Executed in 2012.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
£150,000 - 200,000 

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Kate Bryan
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Olivia Thornton
Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Europe
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20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 30 June 2022