Chris Berens

Netherlands 1976

Surrealism, Painting, Drawing

Chris Berens
Chris Berens
February 22, 2015
Alias of Jasmina Sevic, a researcher and author for Widewalls. She graduated from the Faculty of Political Science (Department for Journalism) in Belgrade in 2013.

Chris Berens is a Dutch painter born in 1976 in Oss, the Netherlands, near the historic town of ‘s-Hertogenbosch (a.k.a. Den Bosch), the birthplace of Hieronymous Bosch. When he was a boy, his father brought him to many exhibitions of the Dutch Golden Age painters, including Frans Hals, Rembrandt and Vermeer, and those images became infused into the internal world he began imagining as a child. He studied illustration at the Academy of Art and Design in Den Bosch, graduating in 1999.

While working as a freelance illustrator, Berens began to teach himself to paint in several dilapidated buildings in the rural area near his childhood home. Attempting to emulate the painting methods of the Old Masters and 19th-century academic artists like Ingres and Bouguereau, he learned by copying their work, and eventually came upon a technique which allowed him to achieve an otherworldly dreamlike impression of the qualities he admired in his predecessors. More recently, Berens relocated to Amsterdam, where he began exhibiting his work in 2004.

In his work Berens does not use traditional media, he uses inks on photo paper rather than oils on canvas, 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 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. However it is entirely created and painted by hand with painstaking skill, time, and precision from beginning to end.

After four sold-out shows at Amsterdam’s Jaski Gallery, Berens made the move to infiltrate the American art market in 2008, at Seattle’s well-known pop surrealism gallery, Roq la Rue. That sold-out show was his first exposure to American collectors, and the sudden appearance of an artist exhibiting his technical sophistication and evocative dreamlike motifs caused a sensation in pop surrealism circles.

YearName of the exhibitionMuseum/GallerySolo/Group
2015NethermoorRoq La Rue, Seattlegroup
2014NenshaJaski Art Gallery, Amsterdamsolo
2013NenshaMegumi Ogita Gallery, Ginza, Tokyosolo
2013UnknownTEFAF Maastricht, the Netherlandsgroup
2012Chris BerensJaski Art Gallery, Amsterdamsolo
2012UnknownPAN, Amsterdam, the Netherlandsgroup
2012UnknownTEFAF Maastricht, the Netherlandsgroup
2011Mapping Infinity, 800 books & 1 paintingJaski Art Gallery, Amsterdamsolo
2011UnknownPAN, Amsterdam, the Netherlandsgroup
2011UnknownTEFAF Maastricht, the Netherlandsgroup
2010LeeuwenhartRoq La Rue, Seattlesolo
2010UnknownPAN, Amsterdam, the Netherlandsgroup
2010UnknownTEFAF Maastricht, the Netherlandsgroup
2009the Only Living Boy in New YorkSloan Fine Art, New York solo
2009Chris Berens, paintingsNoordbrabants Museum, s-Herttogenboschsolo
2009White OnesJaski Art Gallery, Amsterdam solo
2009RealIsMe 09Amsterdamgroup
2009UnknownCopro Nason, Santa Monica, USAgroup
2009UnknownRoq la Rue, Seattle, WA, USAgroup
2009UnknownSloan Fine Art, New York, NY, USAgroup
2008Go WestRoq La Rue, Seattlesolo
2008DelicateJaski Art Gallery, Amsterdam solo
2008RealIsMe 08Amsterdamgroup
2008UnknownAF sH, s-Hertogenbosch group
2008UnknownAffordable Art Fair, Amsterdamgroup
2008UnknownPAN, Amsterdamgroup
2007the Heaven ShowJaski Art Gallery, Amsterdam solo
2007RealIsMe 07Amsterdamgroup
2007UnknownAF sH, s-Hertogenbosch group
2007UnknownAffordable Art Fair, Amsterdamgroup
2007UnknownPAN, Amsterdamgroup
2006ZilverJaski Art Gallery, Amsterdamsolo
2006UnknownRealIsMe 06, Amsterdamgroup
2006UnknownAF sH, s-Hertogenbosch group
2006UnknownMajke Hüsstege, s-Hertogenboschgroup
2005Chris BerensTown Hall, Diemensolo
2005In CJaski Art Gallery, Amsterdamsolo
2005UnknownWalls, Amsterdamgroup
2004UnknownWalls, Amsterdamgroup