The Art of Rebecca Bergese

When encountered in reproduction Rebecca Bergese’s paintings appear to be elegant even cool abstractions from botanical subjects (leaves, stems, flowers) but when we see the originals we are engaged by her method as much as her images. In an important sense her works are richer than the (digital) technology used to present them. In reality we see they have been produced in layers and we become absorbed like a geologist, archaeologist or conservator in understanding what is revealed, restored, enhanced or obscured in each work. We are obliged to consider the forensic evidence of a complex process carried out over time by the artist which we must continue. The carefully presented ‘evidence’ is often enhanced with visual notation and painterly illusion applied by the artist as intriguing marks of intermediate or final meditation to which we are attracted and to which we must respond. Chance and systematic intention are skilfully used as a form of investigation rather than illustration in the paintings. They function as we exist—pragmatically rather than ideologically.

The works referred to as Drawings on this web-site are examples of a significant recent development in Rebecca Bergese’s artistic process. Here ready-made images of horticulture (from the artist’s own archive which are modified by photo-enlargement and copying) are incorporated and transformed to enrich an already successful mix of media which includes collaged fragments and conventional drawing media and techniques. This enhanced recipe has produces highly original ‘drawings’ in space which migrate across and even incorporating the surface to which they are applied.

The images shown here as ‘drawings’ are in fact stations of a lost and ambitious installation which traversed the architectural features of several rooms like a surreal and exotic growth whose presence and power to incorporate questions the nature and function of a room as a container of human experience. As yet we can only imagine other environments.

Even in the more self-contained paintings the questions raised by Rebecca Bergese’s work are the important ones: Where from? Where to? And why? Such an ambitious agenda with the co-opted resources of assemblage bode well for future work. With the services of a good Bradshaw, more journeys and excavations are in prospect.

© Prof. Eric Moody, 2009.