Color My World Video
Interview with Guy Clark for True Swedish



Throwing herself into the unknown seems to be a bit what artist Siri Berg is all about. She was born in Stockholm to a German father and a Polish mother, but left Sweden when still a teenager, all alone. Though her mother didn’t much like the thought of young Siri crossing the ocean, the political situation worked in Berg’s favor. She left Sweden via a ship from Norway to Baltimore—a journey that at the time took 28 days.
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Black & White 1976-1981: Redux 2012 Video
Interview with Peter Hionas



Hionas Gallery has partnered with celebrated Swedish-born abstractionist Siri Berg to stage a redux of the artist's momentous solo show, Black & White 1976- 1981, which originally exhibited at the American Swedish Historical Museum in Philadelphia, March 6 -- May 31, 1986.
Known primarily as a master colorist, Berg's 1986 Black & White represented a major departure from her oeuvre. In this series of monochrome black and white paintings and assemblage, the artist abandons pure color in place of pure shade, resulting in one of the twentieth-century's most stunning collections of minimalist and geometric abstraction.
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FAD

Article by Clementine Kitty
Sept. 19, 2012



On entering the home and studio of Siri Berg I am welcomed by the artist, a petite, radiant woman. Softly spoken and elegant she stands in front of a selection of her life’s work that adorn the walls. One is immediately struck by a sense of calm order and organisation. She invites me to sit and we begin an intimate and fascinating discussion of her life and work.

Born in Sweden in 1921, Berg came to New York alone as a teenager, leaving as she describes it the “constriction” she felt in Sweden. It is clear from her smile, as she warmly reflects, how much she loves New York and the freedom it allowed her in following her artistic path. It wasn’t until her thirties that Berg became fully focused on producing Fine Art. Married twice and with two sons, it was in her home in Riverdale that she first began to paint; on a bridge table in her bedroom. As one son moved out she would claim his room as a studio and it soon became clear she would need more space. With the encouragement of her stepdaughter she started seeking a studio in New York City and the one she found is the one she remains in to this day.



In her home and studio you can gain a serious overview of her work throughout the years. The work of Berg consists of three main bodies, assemblages (made from found objects), paintings and collages. Most are minimalist, but there are other works created in a more geometric abstraction. She speaks of her influences from the Bauhaus, mostly it would seem, in terms their “revolutionary and unconventional” approach, and adds, more pragmatically, that her influence derives from the “home furnishings not furniture or fine art, forks and knives and things like that… I was open to it – nothing stopped me.”

The show of her work that opens on the 6th September: Black and White 1976 – 1981: Redux 2012 focuses on a moment when there is a departure from her normal striking use of colour. Her choice of black and white, at this time, is perhaps not surprising in that her use of colour is typically very bold and direct including series’ of monochromatic panels. The show at Hionas Gallery, New York, NY, provides a rare opportunity to see these earlier pieces, concentrated on black and white.

In her current show which is a selection of work from her previous exhibition of 1986, at the American Swedish museum in Philadelphia, she uses circles in space, not so much to create an image that might be thought minimalist in the nihilistic sense of being stripped of emotion to the bare bones, but rather, still full of energy and deep reflection. In the original exhibit (now in her studio) her piece “Big Bang” in title and in composition is a perfect reflection of this. She speaks of the redux with excitement: “interesting,” she says, “when it’s up to see how one reacts when it has been so long ago,” poignantly, in fact, as this group of works marked her departure, at the time, from these compositions of spheres ending with the aptly titled “Big Bang.” Fascinatingly she would return to this theme 7 years later but with the injection of powerful colour very much changing the mood, which she explains by saying “the theme needed to be explored again.” In this show we can appreciate the cool, calm and collected precision of this excursion into pure black and white.

 

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NORDSTJERNAN

In Focus: Siri Berg
Eva Stenskar
Nordstjernan, Sept. 12, 2010

 

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MODERNA MUSEET

Moderna Museet nasta for Siri
Anna Sjoblom, Editor
SWEA International Forum, 2008

 

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NY ARTS MAGAZINE

Siri Berg: TechnoFemme
Rachel Somerstein
NY Arts Magazine, November/December 2004

 

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Siri Berg's Pulp Paintings
Carmen Bethencourt
NY Arts Magazine, May/June 2004

 

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Sophisticated Variations of Siri Berg
Kirse Junge-Stevnsborg
NY Arts Magazine, January/February 2004

 

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CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Visual logic ; Siri Berg's paintings and collages play with textural qualities, color:[North Final Edition]
Alan G Artner, Tribune art critic.
Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Ill.: Nov 20, 2003 (Copyright 2003 by the Chicago Tribune)
Click here to view photos of this exhibit.

 

Siri Berg is a veteran Swedish artist involved with geometric abstraction. Her paintings have been compared to those by the younger American Peter Halley because of their simplified form and often elaborate texture, but they have no similar intellectual aspirations.

Berg's exhibition at the Swedish American Museum Center -- overlapping with one opening this week in the artist's native Stockholm -- presents both paintings and collages exclusively concerned with textural qualities and color. That means they may suffer a bit in relation to the current fashion for paintings with "concepts," though they are successful at the optical gratification they are about.

Berg has said she is interested in weighing such opposites as light and dark, heavy and light, fear and comfort. In the paintings on show, she works this out in ways the eye can follow, with unassailable visual logic. In her chosen format of the grid, the choices of composition, surface treatment and color are virtually impeccable, if also at times a bit too pared down to encourage long, sustained viewing.

The collages on view offer more. In the mid-1990s Berg began making prints according to the Japanese woodblock technique. Some of her collages make use of these prints, combining them with crisp rectangles of handmade Japanese papers. Other collage-paintings bring together colored and textured triangles to form compositions of no mean ambition.

A piece called "Microchip" is one of the most winning among those that make use of prints. It combines two grids of different scale and color with a narrow hard-edged vertical form presumably suggested by the title. The chromatic delicacy softens Berg's geometry, though at the same time the piece depends on firmness of structure. The opposites weighed might be seen as recessiveness and assertiveness. The balance is perfect.

Pieces from the series "Straight Line" illustrate in a small compass Berg's method of building grids from cut colored papers. Each has three rows of four abutting, vertically oriented rectangles. The papers have many subtle variations in color and texture. Some of the colors tend toward the sweet, but their crinkled or striated textures somewhat withhold them. It's a nice tightrope act.

"Five Panel Painting" proves one of the largest and most complex pieces on view. All of the vertical panels are built, mosaic-like, from small interlocking triangles of mottled and textured color. Each panel is of interest in itself, though it also complements or counterpoints the others. Again, sugary color tends toward an all- too-easy decorative gratification that is complicated by Berg's flickering, unpredictable textures.

Most of the collages, like the paintings, are non-objective. However, there are a few very small ones that play with representational forms such as a star, reindeer and pine tree. These, unfortunately, have little of Berg's balance, looking simply like projects for greeting cards.

The severity of the artist's discourse is at every turn softened and sweetened in ways that make us forget all the work that has gone into these works of art.

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NY ARTS MAGAZINE

Monochromes of Siri Berg
Jamey Hecht
NY Arts Magazine, November-December, 2003

 

Siri Berg’s monochromes are only comprehensible in this age of mechanical reproduction. They are the human version of a digital product so commonplace that we can barely remember how historically recent it is: just as every color television videotape of forty years ago begins with a rainbow test-screen of solid vertical stripes an inch wide, the colorsample on the opening screen of photoshop includes a square of blue that diminishes in hue, or intensity, or saturation, as the pixels proceed to the right. This is absolutely easy for the math engine of the c.p.u. to produce. Conversely, it’s absolutely excruciating for a painter to achieve with a brush and a tube and a solvent. Just as Berg’s flat, fitted collages require a machinelike precision, her monochromes admire, and win, an almost inhuman severity in the application of the paint and the fading of the color from one side to the other.
A chess game can be lost, or it can be won; but it’s also in the nature of chess that a rare winning game can not only prevail against the opponent but also be error-free.Such a game is, in chess parlance, "correct." In a similar way, a Sanskrit grammarian named Panini was the first to produce a grammar of an Indo-European language that was totally systematic, accurate, and complete: in the tradition, this 4th Century B.C. text is called the first "perfect" grammar. Berg’s monochromes are as dreamy as Rothko’s, but they happen inside an airless domain of mathematics in which nobody can breathe, and nobody needs to breathe, and all that’s left of us is vision.
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Siri Berg: Then and Now
Heli Haapasalo, Curator of exhibition at Hallwyska Museet, Stockholm
NY Arts Magazine, November-December, 2003

 

Siri Berg: Then and Now is an exhibition of geometric abstraction. It includes paintings, collages and assemblages created over a period of several years. Within these different techniques a gradual but systematic exploration of color, form, pattern and texture developed. The repetition of geometric shapes is a method of art making which is essentially timeless. Initially there seems to be a striking difference the works into two group, some entirely black or white, others vibrantly polychromatic. But the whole body of work is characterized by a governing unity of thought. It coheres and commands and constitutes a timeless stasis that imitates only the most austere elements of nature. One example of her work exhibits this quality of agelessness is the modular system.
It's a flexible method of creating and combining work, a process by which Berg pictures that can each stand apart or join others as an ensemble, with no loss of visual integrity. The modular work in the exhibition consists of 5 smaller units that merge to form a single cohesive work. Each individual square within the unit expresses the importance of color, forms, pattern and texture. This group of pieces includes paintings, collages and assemblages created during a period of several years, yet one cannot distinguish the earlier from the later. This modular system parallels the theme of the entire exhibition on a small scale. It exemplifies how the work created over a period of time during Siri Berg's career is successful, relevant and enduring.
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Kreab and Siri Berg
NY Arts Magazine, November-December, 2003

 

Kreab, the largest communications consultancy in the Nordic countries, has collaborated with Siri Berg since the 1980's. In and through her art she communicates with the representative optical range of human color vision. She continues to inovate both formally and in her use of new materials and media. Her art communicates over borders and in all cultural environments. And she represents the artist's vocation in the best sense of the word. Siri's art stands for the sort of personally invested labor that we at Kreab value very highly. Siri Berg brilliantly designed the covers of our Annual Reports for several key years in our company's history, and our corporate offices are decorated with several of her best pieces from the 80's and the 90's.
Many of Kreab's most important clients and staff members have received pieces by Siri Berg on their major anniversaries. We have sponsored solo exhibitions with Siri's art in New York and Stockholm, and now we are very proud to be able to present her art at a new solo exhibition at Konstnärshuset in Stockholm, November 22 - December 12, 2003.
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Siri Berg at ETS Brodksy Gallery
Kenneth Martina
NY Arts Magazine, May, 2003

 

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SVENSKA
February 21 - 27, 2002

 

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