Friday, August 28, 2009

Artist John Stuart Berger by Tim Kavi (Article)

Blue Phobos by John Stuart Berger

Tim Kavi has had an online article published at:

Title:  John Stuart Berger 
by Tim Kavi

Publication:  Imagine Magazine (Art Magazine); July 2009

This is an article on John Stuart Berger, an artist from the Sacramento California area.

Update:  The link above no longer works (as of 2013), so I have reproduced the article below in its entirety.  (I do retain authorial copyright).  Hope you enjoy it! ~~TK

John Stuart Berger
By Tim Kavi

Sacramento artist John Stuart Berger has no problem taking his inspiration from a plethora of creatures that fly, swim, or crawl, as he puts it.  Berger, who as a youngster caught the creatures and played in the woods near the house where he grew up started drawing them at an early age.     Far from being a budding entomologist or aspiring bird lover like other kids interested in creepy crawlies or feathered friends, Berger grew up to become an artist with a delightful and creative yen for the creatures that he observed and  studied. 

By growing up in the rural area of Danville, Berger had plenty of opportunities to reflect on the creatures as he played near the creek, and studied Audubon-like Field Guides for inspiration.  This inspiration has led him to draw and sketch the creatures, and after developing a basic drawing, he would play with them, exaggerating their features, or changing their characteristics. (This was on paper and not as a genetic engineer).   Although the result of this process seems at times to take on an animated quality, or a cartoon quality, Berger says that the Field Handbooks and old Biology textbooks have been more of an influence on his style, than the slight exposure he had to comic books as a kid.  Berger has called this process of drawing additional features as ‘mutating’ them.   Once this happens, Berger took his creative process a step further, where he found that his art could not only mutate the creatures but morph them into different colors and new kinds of emotional lives.

By deconstructing and reshaping them as newly morphed beings that delight young and old, fascinate the curious, and overall, brings great interest among onlookers, Berger has given us alternative creatures that inspire and fascinate us and reminds us that the forces of Natural Selection could have come up with something entirely different if they only had the shaping skills that Berger has.

Berger's artistic vision certainly depicts the new creatures in a manner that adds emotional life, color, and plenty of room for mutated identities in interesting habitats that delights the imagination.  If only evolution were concerned with aesthetics and meaning rather that bare survival.  How much more interesting creatures could be, and Berger’s work certainly reminds us of that.  Gone are the dull blacks, and grays, and other shades that Natural Selection has selected for in the past, and added are much brighter colors that would surely make such creatures much more interesting in the natural world amongst landscapes of colorful habitat.  One wonders how they might avoid predators, but perhaps in their new worlds they are avoiding them.  Or at least, in Berger’s scheme, the new creatures have not gone unprotected, for they have acquired teeth and a bite that their ancestors might never have dreamed of!

Painting in a style that some might call pop surrealistic, and others have certainly seen as surrealism, Berger’s work has been featured at a number of shows as an up and coming artist.  Berger has done his work mostly in acrylics, but has done interesting work in ceramics, and some of his other paintings feature shapes and human figures rather than the creatures morphed and mutated from his youth.  John Stuart Berger is certainly an interesting talent, well worth the attention he gets, and even more so, his original and innovative work should be considered an interesting object of acquisition among serious art collectors.  

Artist: John Stuart Berger

About the author:  Tim Kavi is a poet from Portland, Oregon. Kavi’s first collection will be published shortly by Tilu Press.  “Emerging Goddess” is a collection of poetry that many see as love poems, others see as poetry that worships the sacred goddess in her many forms, and others say describes a longing for connection and dialogue with strong existential themes.  You can see some of his poetry at: .

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