Amsterdam artist Chris Berens is an anomaly in the art world, an expert painter who does not use traditional media (he uses inks on photo paper rather than oils on canvas...and NO digital or photographic elements whatsoever), but creates some of the most compellingly executed, enigmatic, and emotionally resonant paintings seen in a long time. His work features a fantastical mélange of exotic creatures and 18th century imagery, floating in buttermilk colored clouds or silvery sea blues. Photo realistic, totem-like animals and distorted childlike people float like dreams through blurry surrealistic European cityscapes or drift on stormy seas on decrepit ships in a soft focus haze, shimmering as if in a fevered dream. It is almost shocking to look at, but in the gentlest of ways.
Beyond the wondrous imagery there is another startling and unusual aspect to Chris' work, in which the smooth, translucent look of the his medium of choice (ink on thin plastic over wood panel) is contrasted with fact that the paintings are patch-worked together, in pieces ranging from 1 to 3 inches across. Each section has been been painted numerous times and layered over each other and each segment flows seamlessly into each other, creating a cohesive image. This technique creates images with such depth, that along with his soft focus look and technical perfection make most people assume they are seeing digital imagery or manipulated photographs (at least when seeing it on a printed page or on a computer screen- in person the work has the “artist’s hand”- a sense of aliveness digital work can not capture). However it is entirely created and painted by hand with painstaking skill, time, and precision from beginning to end.