The Human Figure and All its Grotesque Facets in Margot Bergman Portraits on Show at Anton Kern Gallery

June 26, 2016

Margot Bergman portraits will be exhibited at Anton Kern Gallery very soon! The Chicago-based painter will present a selection of her works in her debut solo exhibition, and in addition, the display will include the early drawings and paintings by Brian Calvin. These works belong to the Popeye series, executed during his time in Chicago in the early 1990s. This double exhibition presents the human figure in all its grotesqueness and evokes the Neo-Expressionist sensibilities of the art scene of the Windy City. Both of these artists create layers in their works, Bergman does it in a physical sense, while Calvin builds layers in a figurative sense. Given the painterly expertise of the artists, this exhibition will surely inspire the viewers to think outside the beauty box, and accept all shapes and forms of the grotesque facets of the Margot Bergman portraits and Brian Calvin works in all their glory.

Margot Bergman portraits 2014 inches 2014  acrylic  linen  canvas inches 2014 acrylic
Left: Margot Bergman - Audrey Ray, 2012 / Right: Margot Bergman - Doris, 2015

Layers and Layers of Margot Bergman Portraits

Margot Bergman portraits are built from the layers of paint put atop the found artworks. Her works remind of Modernist collage, as she plays with the elements of the artworks she finds with her own additions that create distorted forms. The paintings, her “double-portraits” blend into a single subject through her masterful way of breathing a whiff of personality and soul into her works. Margot Bergman portraits stem from the “rescued” flea market paintings she kept in her home before venturing on to the journey that is her portraiture. Bergman explained:

“It was a process - living with them, understanding what I was looking for, beginning to draw it out, slowly and without a plan, responding to the original paintings. I didn’t know what the next step would be. Once I found my way to the portraits, it was magical for me.”

Margot Bergman usually works with acrylic on linen or canvas
Left: Margot Bergman - Foxy Dee, 2012 / Right: Margot Bergman - Kelly, 2015

Brian Calvin Works

Brian Calvin delved into the painterly figuration through the influences coming from the early 1990s Chicago, especially through the works of Imagists and the Hairy Who. This influence resulted in the tonal shift in his painterly work. In his Popeye series, he renders the cartoon character in the thickly applied paint over the dark background, depicted in the middle of mundane activities, such as enjoying a cigarette, standing in the rain, or lying in bed awake. The stillness of the beloved character and the contrasts constructs the sense of unease and makes the viewers focus on the lightness that the character possesses by staying himself in a completely different reality than the one we are used to seeing him in.

Margot Bergman portraits, images courtesy Anton Kern Gallery, New York; and Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago
Margot Bergman - Hazel, 2011

Margot Bergman Portraits at Anton Kern Gallery

Margot Bergman portraits and Brian Calvin’s Early Work will be on view at Anton Kern Gallery from June 30th to August 19th, 2016. The gallery is located at 532 West 20th Street in New York City and is open Mondays through Fridays. Margot Bergman has been active on the Chicago art scene since the 1950s, and she has exhibited her works in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Governors State University in Illinois, and Leila Heller Gallery in New York, to name a few. Brian Calvin has shown his works worldwide, in Berlin, Los Angeles, New York, and Paris, among others.

All images courtesy Anton Kern Gallery, New York; and Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago.
Featured image: Margot Bergman - Patty, 2015