"Using paint as a vehicle of both archaeology
and interpretation, Keith Berens translates worldly travels into thick, corporeal canvases that hang heavily in the mind. Materializing memory into a tactile gesture, he makes sense of his surroundings by scraping the earth for its many stories. In the process-with a tangible, yet consistently cryptic vernacular-he marries the physical and cultural elements of landscape in paintings that bear the history of every brush and fingertip that has traveled across their topography.
Berens uses the history of storytelling as his guide-activating the literary history of Canada as both fodder and foil. From Milton Acorn and Margaret Laurence to Aboriginal myth and apocryphal records, the borders between document and daydream bleed as he draws upon texts that have shaped the cultural DNA of the Prairies.
Steven Matijcio, from Scratching the Surface: The Post-Prairie Landscape, Sept.14, 2007, Plug In ICA
at left, Palimpset, from Maps and Dreams Series, oil on canvas, 2005-2006
"An abstract painter, curator and writer, Keith Berens' love of colour is evident as he draws from the rhythms of nature. Well traveled and with an extensive knowledge of art history, he draws from international contemporary art movements, including the work of American colour field painters Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman and Abstract Expressionist, Jackson Pollock. His work is reflective of the topography and texture of the land, his brushwork recalling the deliberate calligraphic strokes of Chinese calligraphers.
Pat Bovey, Shared History Exhibition, North Dakota Museum of Art, 2010
at left, Bannock Point 2, encaustic on board, 2010