TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2009 MaryNewton Blog Interview
Mary Newton Gallery recently talked to Victor Berezovsky about his
latest work in Splinter. The exhibition comprises nine paintings on
marine hoop pine that are painted, carved into, chiselled, cut, and
MNG: Your work used to be quite figurative but has slowly become more abstract. What interests you about abstraction?
VB: Yes it’s true that on the face of it my work has become more
“abstract”. However I would say that my position has always been one of
abstracting rather than heading towards the abstract. For me the term
abstract is an absolute and near impossible position.
Ilam taught in a modernist tradition. Therefore underpinning all of my
work are formal and plastic considerations. However in relationship to
this are ‘figurative’ possibilities or dialogues. Over the years I have
processed and abstracted from life. This process of drawing in and out
has been cyclic.
These days the way I draw in new information has become more subtle and
vague. Currently I need less concrete stimulus for the works to
develop. In this sense the works are more abstract. Also I think it is
easier for viewers of my current work to place the work as abstract as
it definitely overlaps with visual language previously used or assigned
I would hope however that viewers review my current work in light of
what has gone before it. It is the ability of this current work to echo
and resonate with this past that interests me.
MNG: Your previous series,
Dacha, incorporated drilled holes in patterns and added playful
elements to the surface. This new work has a lot of cutting, drilling,
chiselling and general attacking of the surfaces. The chiselling and
chipping away of the wood lends texture as well as a painterly aspect
to the process - is this your intent or what was your intention?
VB: When I first started the wood paintings for Dacha I initially set
out to respond to the grain of the wood as it was pretty beautiful. The
marks also reminded me of my visceral stained sheet works done in 2000.
However I quickly found the results to be contrived and constraining in
By chance a solution was brought about by finding a box of wooden peg
board toys. I spend a period of time drawing on these objects and then
set about drilling up the unresolved wood stretchers in a similar
fashion. They immediately set up a modernist framework against the
I liked the idea of subverting this framework by sticking wooden pegs
into it or by painting the surface. In this sense the holes became
architectural anchor points from which I set about contradicting or
reinforcing. Importantly the holes also gave me a tool to refresh the
surface when it became too skin-like or rigid due to using acrylic
In a similar fashion the cuts of the new work have partially being used
as a tool to refresh the surface. Sometimes I would erase what was
there and sometimes it was used to make form directly. A similar
approach was used in my “Marked” series in 2003. The use of cutting or
scoring was employed at different times in the history of the work. The
marks became imbedded into the surface and often these marks or colours
were dug out or raised to the surface latter depending on what the
works needed. A friend aptly used the word “accrued” to describe how
forms are made in my works. I think this is a very good word to
summarize the Splinter works.
MNG: Can you say something about the imagery? It's quite hard-edged but dissolves and becomes more organic in places?
VB: As some of the titles of the works suggest, the works contain or
trace a level of struggle in achieving their shape. At times I found
myself lost and then suddenly a single decision brought a clear and
definite surge to a conclusion. What is it that determines this final
point? I would say that is no one thing determined it. Rather it was
the embodiment of all the working that had gone into making the history
of the work.
History is often related by certain key images or symbols. These images
sit at the surface of the event though their making is often
underscored by the smaller events that have unfolded beneath its
surface. I suppose I wanted my work to contain this meshing and
rupturing of surface and show what lay beneath it.
In terms of the shapes that make up or comprise my work I would say
they are a synthesis or echoing of prior forms - that is, the more
organic Grotto series and the more structural Bobble series.
MNG: And the palate? What was your thinking behind the choice of colours, this exploration of greys?
VB: I usually work in high key colours when starting a work. However in
the end I slowly introduced greys to subdue the palate and isolate
areas of colour. I suppose in some ways the grey conveys a slightly
industrial feel to the work which in turn is reinforced by the more
structural forms and holes.
When I started this series I was reading about how the gulag system in
the Soviet Union was used to mine regions. At some point I introduced
gold and silver in response. I liked the i
dea of embedding these
precious metals into the layers of the work and then at some point
striping them back.