An extended reality (XR) exhibition of new paintings by María Berrío, A Day's Cadence makes audible the silence that follows in the wake of a catastrophe, a solemnity that points as much towards modes of resilience and adaptation as it does to the crushing devastation of loss.
Available exclusively online and via the App Store on Vortic Collect.
These works ask the question: do we control and shape the world or does it control and shape us? For me, the answers are to be found in our children.
— María Berrío
The exhibition A Day’s Cadence makes audible the silence that follows in the wake of a catastrophe, a solemnity that points as much towards modes of resilience and adaptation as it does to the crushing devastation of loss. This theme takes shape through María Berrío’s narration of a small fishing village that has undergone a tragedy. In these works, Berrío explores how the formation of historical memory occurs amidst processes of grieving in a village that maps the site of her own imagination.
Berrío began this series, originally conceived as large-scale paintings depicting the barren homes and landscapes that situate the women and children left behind after the catastrophe, on the eve of the new decade. As the coronavirus pandemic emerged and threw 2020 into tumult, the lines demarcating her imaginary village from the reality in which she lived seemed to smudge and blur before her eyes. Though external circumstances may have shifted, however, her drive to create art—to respond to the world, to push back against the prevailing fear and anxiet—endures. Unable to keep up her studio practice and continue the large scale works that had heretofore comprised the series, Berrío began a number of smaller pieces at home, focusing on portraits of the village’s children. The scale and detail of the portraits reflects the conditions of their production during an extended period of global quarantine.
The exhibition is also available to view via the App Store on Vortic Collect
In the words of Pablo Neruda, 'You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep Spring from coming'.
— María Berrío
As inhabitants of the village Berrío has been creating, these children offer another lens onto the themes that the village conjures. While they, too, are subject to the knife-edge of grief, they also breathe new life onto the embers of hope, the promise of growth forestalled but not forgotten.
Windows feature prominently in one group of paintings, but their vantages onto the outside are obscured by ominous clouds.
— María Berrío
In other works, flowers herald the presence of a living world just outside of the frame. As the artist says, ‘Nature’s fecundity presses impatiently on these images.’
As the old world is uprooted, it is the seedlings that will sprout and eventually flourish in the overturned soil.
— María Berrío.
The final portrait shows the artist’s own son, whose presence refutes the pull of the imaginary while at the same time underscoring its potency, reality and fantasy emerging out of one another. Has Berrío’s life enfolded her fiction or is it the other way around? The question strikes urgently: do we control and shape the world or does it control and shape us? For Berrío, the answers to this question are to be found in our children. As the artist comments, ‘In the words of Pablo Neruda, “You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep Spring from coming.” As the old world is uprooted, it is the seedlings that will sprout and eventually flourish in the overturned soil.’
About the Artist
Based in Brooklyn, María Berrío was born and grew up in Colombia. Her works, which are meticulously crafted from layers of Japanese paper, reflect on cross-cultural connections and global migration seen through the prism of her own history.
María Berrío’s work is in permanent collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, USA; Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, USA; Pérez Art Museum, Miami, USA and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, USA, among others. Her work has been shown as part of significant exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA; Nasher Museum of Art, USA; Prospect.4 Triennial, New Orleans; and the Museo del Barrio, New York. The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, is organising the first survey of Berrío’s work, scheduled to open in early 2021.
Press release courtesy Victoria Miro.