Sunday, March 26, 2017

Notes From The Blast Site: Thomas Berding at the Painting Center

Lessons In Building, 22″x24″, oil on canvas, 2013

At some point in his career Tom Berding took a detonator to his paintings to find himself again. Must have been around 1999. Call it collage aesthetic or deconstruction, doesn't matter. It worked. He hit a dead end and hit destruct, and boom, he rediscovered the joy of painting. Color, mark, shape, space, sound, texture, music, dialogue, energy, harmony, tension, conflict, balance, etc.

Thomas Berding, Command Tree, 44 X 48″, Oil on Canvas, 2013

It is as though he followed Philip Guston in reverse. Guston complained in the early 1960s that he hungered for something more solid when he abandoned his gorgeous, Monet-like, diffused 1950s abstractions, and then shocked the art world with his comic book hallucinations.

Thomas Berding, Physical Plant, 1990, oil on canvas, 59 1/2 x 108 inches

Thomas Berding blew up his own comic book hallucinations of the late 1980s and early 1990s to unleash something that is hard to put a finger on, literally notes from the blast site, exploded comic book hallucinations in vivid animated technicolor, a delightful and refreshing world that is partying like there is no tomorrow, like 1999, a non-stop parade, a non-stop flight to Rio, a place out of control, where the viewer isn't presented with an end, but a beginning. That is what his paintings are like: come on in, the party has already started, and we're having a blast.

Remainder in the Field, 2016, oil, acrylic
 and flashe on canvas, 24” x 24” 

Glorious color goes hand in hand with his loosely defined and multi-layered shapes and structures. It is at the heart of this process of making and breaking form and space. It is as though the viewer is being given certain variables, certain options to work with. Possibilities. Ocean blues might be one, here, take these nice ocean blues I've found. Or these tangerine oranges. What do you think? This farm door green speaks to me in a way I never imagined winding through this luscious raspberry sherbet magenta colored fragment/figment sea of my imagination.

Surplus Mound, 2016, oil, acrylic 
and flashe on canvas, 76” x 70” 

Now I want you to find your way through this kaleidoscopic playground. Step into my template. My neighborhood. Mister Berding's neighborhood. Watch yourself. Endless fun. Things shift, swing around, heads up, hold onto your hats, this ride takes unexpected twists and turns, but we are going somewhere today, some place special, constructed just for your entertainment, your sense of adventure, your sense of possibilities, your sense of hurrah, of fantastic other worlds, of unseen other places.

Thomas Berding, 2008, By Land and By Sea, Oil on Canvas, 70 X 76

Or not. Some viewers can also just stand back, take in something that acts like abstract arrangements of color and form, and be perfectly happy. Collage experiences which seem to move when our backs are turned, playful interior and exterior landscapes of brilliant color and light, breezy and revitalizing like a Spring day. Ride or not, Thomas Berding's paintings gift the viewer this one thing. They are the pleasure of painting. The joy of painting. The love of painting. And we are happier and better for them.

Explosion View, 44″x48″, oil on canvas, 2013

Addison Parks
Artdeal Magazine
Spring Hill

Sunrise Sunset Die Cut, 2016, 
oil, acrylic and flashe on canvas, 70” x 62” 

Multiple Futures, 2017, oil, acrylic,
flashe on canvas, 40" x 36"

Orienting Devices, 2017, oil, acrylic,
flashe on canvas, 30" x 24"

Thomas Berding

March 28, 2017 - April 22, 2017
Opening: Thursday, March 30, 6:00-8:00pm

THE PAINTING CENTER 547 West 27th Street, Suite 500 New York 10001

Into the Wild, 2017, oil, acrylic,
flashe on canvas, 30" x 46"

Thomas Berding was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and received an MFA from Rhode Island School of Design. Berding’s paintings have been recognized with awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and NEA/Mid America Arts Alliance. His work has been the subject of recent solo exhibitions at the University of Maine Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, and in October 2016, Oakland University in metro Detroit mounted a survey of the last decade of his work which was accompanied by a major catalog. Over his career, Berding has exhibited at many venues including the David Klein Gallery, Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Nelson-Atkins Museum, Rochester Institute of Technology, Indiana University, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Savannah College of Art and Design, and Rhode Island School of Design Museum among many others. Thomas Berding currently lives and works in East Lansing where he is Professor of Studio Art at Michigan State University.

For more information on the artist see: or 


Anonymous said...

Loved your latest writing! Always a treat looking at the paintings you feature in your blogs!


Anonymous said...

Great article on Artdeal...

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