Karen Rosenberg, “Art in Review: Michael Berryhill,” The New York Times, September 17, 2009
The gallery is pleased to present the New York solo debut of Michael Berryhill. Entitled Basement States the artist’s recent series of paintings invite the viewer to engage in an open-ended dialogue of inventiveness and misinterpretation.
Often deriving inspiration from a misapprehended concept or a confusing phrase, Berryhill’s paintings capture that self-deprecating moment just before meaning is realized. Akin to the experience of hearing song lyrics incorrectly and assigning new meaning, the artist employs the historic symbols and imagery of modern painting styles like Cubism and Surrealism to set forth a personalized painterly remix.
Alternating between fast and slow, abstraction and representation, unreadable and readable, insecurity and confidence, color and black & white, painting and drawing, the surfaces function as a map of how the works were made, bearing the results of looking, planning, and changing. In this way, the experience of viewing becomes aligned to the experience of making with the viewer implicated as an active participant in the state of discovery.
Between the paintings in the exhibition one encounters a Cezanne-like still life (“Two For Table,” 2009), a contorted table set by a shrouded, suspect mealtime companion (“Gay Pride Mustache,” 2008), an entangled painterly mass resembling a cartoon brain (“Little Big Form,” 2009), and a musical instrument of perplexing function set against a brilliantly colored background, leaving the viewer only to speculate what unknown sounds it might produce (“Stair Guitar,” 2009).
Michael Berryhill (b. 1972, El Paso, TX) lives and works in New York, NY and Austin, TX. He received a MFA from Columbia University, New York, NY, a BFA in Painting from University of Texas at Austin, TX, and he attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME. His work has been included in group exhibitions at Angstrom Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Blütenweiss Gallery, Berlin,Germany; and Okay Mountain and Arthouse, Austin, TX; among others. Basement States is the artist’s New York solo debut.