Chris Berens

Sisters of Mercy

  • Mixed media on panel
  • 24cm x 30cm
  • 2019

This work is no longer available.


About this work

She’s the free-spirited creator of all things genuine, she’s the source of the immaculate.

Aglow from within, she breathes life into wishes, hopes and fantasies.

Illuminating a map of Amsterdam from the 1600’s, we witness her shedding her igneous light on a child’s drawing of a giraffe.

Additional information


Each of Berens’ current works consists of hundreds of small, translucent, rectangular fragments, painted and layered one on top of one another onto a wood panel, forming a perfectly balanced, luminescent puzzle. When creating a work, Berens first sketches all of the figures that appear in his art repeatedly until drawing them becomes second nature. He then paints the figures using drawing ink and bistre — a pigment made of boiled soot and water — onto glossy inkjet photo paper coated with parquet lacquer. Because the ink is watery and, when combined with the lacquer, takes days to dry, there are different levels of malleability throughout the drying process. Berens adjusts the images during this time, using various tools to shift the ink. When the images are almost dry, he uses a blow dryer to heat the photo paper, causing the ink to sink into the lacquered plastic. The edges of the figures begin to blur, causing the brushstrokes to disappear and creating Berens’ trademark soft-focus effect. The plastic coating of the photo paper is then separated from its backing through an additional heat process. Once he has just the transparent painted sheets, Berens uses an X-Acto knife and cuts out what he considers to be usable 1" to 3" wide rectangular fragments, adhering hundreds of them in dozens of layers to a wood panel using book binder’s glue. Berens paints the same faces and objects between five and 15 times, sometimes layering different versions of the same figure onto the board until he achieves the look he desires. The result evokes such luminescence that the image appears to glow. A combination of drawing ink and varnish unifies and seals the fragments into a completed work. 

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