On Friday 1st December, Enter Gallery is hosting Berner’s much-anticipated solo show, You Can Be Anything (*or Nothing), and you’re invited.
Join us at the gallery from 6-8pm to meet Berner and to see this fantastic new collection for yourself. RSVP here
In today’s blog, we’re chatting to Berner to learn more about his show and the themes woven into his works via his loveable cast of characters.
Say It As You See It
In You Can Be Anything (*or Nothing), Berner dives into the ambiguity of art, offering a humorous take on its capacity to mean everything to one person, and absolutely nothing to the next.
Observed at a distance, Berner’s work can appear to be one thing, but by incorporating incredible detail via his champs, he also presents us with an endless story within each artwork which we’re invited to devour and decipher in any way that feels right to us. Berner explains:
“I’m interested in the sentiment that we don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are. I like that to some people the champs are something deep and meaningful, and to others, the works are nothing more than a picture made up of tiny little people. I like to keep a mystery to the work and not give away all the answers. They can be anything or they can be nothing, depending on who is looking at it. ”
Everyone’s A Critic
This notion of subjective opinion is another theme that Berner explores through his show. By its very nature, art is open to opinion and critique. Every time an artist puts work out into the world, they are putting a piece of themselves out there. This is a vulnerable place to be if the thoughts and opinions of others weigh too heavily on your mind.
Early in his career, Berner found himself in this position when his teacher at art school told him in no uncertain terms that his Champs ‘weren’t art’. Sadly, this opinion was enough to put Berner off making art for almost a decade. Given this formative experience, it’s little wonder that this idea of what constitutes art and what gets to claim itself profound is something that permeates this artist’s work. In his show, we see Berner play with the idea of the critic, both inner and outer, via pieces like, Profound Champ and See Me / Don't See Me. Speaking of these works, he explains: “There’s a loneliness to them. They present the idea that we feel alone and isolated in those thoughts, when in fact, many of us feel the same things, have the same insecurities, and worry about the same things.”
The Struggle is Real
In You Can Be Anything (*or Nothing), Berner also muses on his own interpretation of the human struggle. Some pieces explore the irony of how our constant pursuit of betterment could perhaps be the root of all our turmoil. “I think it’s about trying to deal with day-to-day life with humour, and working out the right level of seriousness to adopt. Some people take things so seriously, and others believe that nothing is real. By showing my champs both surviving and perishing within the same space, I explore how hope and despair go hand-in-hand.”
Berner’s sense of humour is infused throughout his art, and can also seen in the titles that he’s chosen for his works. The show features works entitled things like, Solitude and Liberty, The Silent Traveller and If God Doesn’t Want Us, the Devil Must, each having the capacity to be interpreted as either extremely profound, or darkly ironic.“Artists are always trying to sound profound. I’m torn between wanting to do that, and wanting to take the mick out of it.”
Life and Death
Berner’s contemplation about the meaning of life has seen his work compared to the vanitas genre of still-life painting, a genre which thrived in the 16th and 17th centuries during the Dutch Golden Age art movement. At the time, the Dutch dominated international trade, and the unprecedented wealth this brought sparked much soul-searching amongst the wealthy about the ‘meaninglessness of earthly life,’ with ‘vanitas’ literally translating to ‘emptiness’ or ‘vanity’ in Latin.
In re-imaging valuable works of art, like that of Edward Hopper, with a cast of champs both living and dying, Berner’s art could be seen as a warning to the observer about not placing too much importance in the pleasures of life. Or maybe not…you decide! You Can Be Anything (*or Nothing) features an exciting body of new pieces by Berner, including over 30 original new works and champs like you've never seen them before...
Join us at the Private View on Friday 1st December from 6-8pm. Book your tickets here.If you can’t make the Private View, the show will be on display at Enter Gallery in Brighton until Friday 8th December.