Colombian artist Maria Berrio returns to Praxis Gallery with her second solo exhibition The Harmony of the Spheres, a series of stunningly, beautiful mixed-media collages focused on the celebration of women and nature. In this new show, Berrio follows the tradition of communicating themes of mysticism, mythology, and female solidarity throughout her several canvases, a territory she previously explored in her prior exhibit Dream Gardens from 2013. The works are comprised mostly of Japanese rice paper – Berrio’s medium of choice – and feature a bevy of regal female figures clothed in opulent garb emanating serene expressions. Influences from Klimt, Kahlo, and Schiele make discreet appearances in her work but don’t overwhelm, as Berrio’s style is distinctive and has a clear mission to uplift her muses.
In The Harmony of the Spheres, Berrio seems to evoke the heroines of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s iconic novels, whose work Berrio has cited as a huge inspiration. In Born Again, an Amazonian woman hoists a jaguar on her back while balancing an exotic bird at her fingertips, all the while surrounded by small children. This picture is quite reminiscent of the matriarchal figure Ursula Iguaran, one of the lead characters from Marquez’s classic multi-generational saga One Hundred Years of Solitude. In another piece, The Lovers 3 – The Kiss of the Butterfly, a young woman is found in a pensive state while caressing a butterfly, perhaps contemplating a romantic dilemma. The subject could be likened to Fermina Daza, the ravishing, impulsive, female protagonist of Love in the Time of Cholera. Scenes from the fictional town of Macondo are vividly translated onto her canvases – loaded with magic, mystery, and fantasy.
The sisterly tribe of women found in Berrio’s work share an intimate connection with nature and it’s remarkably evident in her work. Oceanic blues, earthy greens and sensuous reds beckon and enchant the viewer. There are deep bonds shared between earthly creatures and women, which are based upon harmonious living and emotional alliances. There seems to be an underlying purpose between these two groups that ultimately unites them, which is to be the protectors of the earth. These beliefs may stem from Berrio’s youth which were spent in the Colombian countryside. Although Berrio grew up in Bogota, she would escape to her family’s rural compound and ingest her pastoral surroundings which would have a profound impact on her work in the future.
Originally born in Bogota in 1982, Berrio moved to New York to study art and holds both a BFA and MFA from Parsons The New School for Design and School of Visual Arts, respectively, and is currently based in Brooklyn. She was most recently included in the current museum exhibit Cut N’ Mix at El Museo del Barrio, and this is her third exhibit with Praxis Gallery, her first being Of Dreams and Hurricanes in 2012. Berrio has also exhibited in numerous art fairs including Art Miami New York, Art Southampton, Downtown Art Fair, Art Toronto, Context Art Miami, Art Basel Miami Beach, etc. Berrio has also completed residencies with the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, Chashama, etc. The Harmony of the Spheres will be on view through November 7th at Praxis Gallery.
Maria Berrio: The Harmony of the Spheres
September 10 – November 7. 2015
Praxis International Art
541 West 25th street, NYC
Writing by Jasmin Hernandez
Photographs provided by the gallery