Installation Views

Akg 2016 margotbergman 13 1400 0x0x3000x2000 q85Akg 2016 margotbergman 01 1400 0x0x3000x2000 q85Akg 2016 margotbergman 03 1400 0x0x3000x2000 q85Akg 2016 margotbergman 11 1400 0x0x3000x2000 q85Akg 2016 margotbergman 06 1400 0x0x3000x2000 q85Akg 2016 margotbergman 10 1400 0x0x3000x2000 q85Akg 2016 margotbergman 07 1400 0x0x3000x2000 q85Akg 2016 margotbergman 12 1400 0x0x3000x2000 q85


Ak12562 berg doris 1400 0x113x2000x1334 q85Ak12558 berg agnes312 1400 0x0x2000x1335 q85Ak12564 berg patty 1400 0x0x2432x1624 q85Ak12563 berg jo 1400 0x660x2000x1334 q85Ak12565 berg hillary 1400 0x0x2000x1334 q85Ak12559 berg bella 1400 0x239x2000x1335 q85Ak12560 berg cj 1400 0x313x2000x1335 q85Ak12561 berg kelly 1400 0x587x2000x1335 q85Ak12555 berg audreyray 1400 0x300x2000x1335 q85Ak12556 berg foxydee 1400 0x383x2000x1335 q85Ak12551 berg wilmarose 1400 0x292x1200x801 q85Ak12552 berg bethjo 1400 0x296x2000x1336 q85
View More WorksView Less Works

Press Release

June 30 –
August 26, 2016

For her debut solo exhibition in New York, Anton Kern Gallery has invited Chicago-based painter Margot Bergman (b.1934) to present a body of recent portraits. Paired with Bergman’s work is a selection of early drawings and paintings by Brian Calvin (b.1969), from the Popeye series created during his time in Chicago in the early 1990s. These side by side exhibitions depict the human figure and all its grotesque facets, and reflect the painterly Neo-Expressionist sensibilities of the Chicago art scene. With an emphasis on building up paint, working and reworking their materials, both artists create layers; Bergman in a physical sense and Calvin in a more figurative sense.


Margot Bergman builds layers of paint atop found artworks. The interplay between elements of the found works she exposes and her own additions creates distorted and uncanny forms, reminiscent of Modernist collage. Her constructed ‘double-portraits’ converge into a single subject. With titles like Auntie Gladyce, Gloria Jean, and Patty, each painting possesses a unique personality, a soul. This process of prosopopoeia stems from the artist’s relationship with the found paintings, who she has “rescued” from flea markets and kept in her home. As Bergman explains, “It was a process - living with them, understanding what I was looking for, beginning to draw it out, slowly and without a plan, responding to the original paintings. I didn’t know what the next step would be. Once I found my way to the portraits, it was magical for me.”


When Brian Calvin moved from Berkeley to Chicago in the early 1990s, his predisposition toward painterly figuration was broadened through local influences such as the Imagists and the Hairy Who, resulting in a tonal shift in his painting. In his ‘Popeye’ works, Calvin renders the stark cartoon figure in thickly applied paint against a dark brooding background, paused amid mundane activities such as smoking a cigarette, standing in the rain, lying awake in bed. The contrast and stillness creates a sense of unease and focuses the viewer’s attention on the subject’s gestures. Calvin subverts Popeye’s inherent cartoon lightness by reimagining himself in an alternate reality, restaging him in a bleak psychological landscape. With the memory accumulated from drawing this iconic character repeatedly in his youth, Calvin uses the figure’s instantly recognizable shape, and it’s associations, as a vessel for ruminations on pathos.


Margot Bergman, born in 1934, has been an active member of the Chicago art scene since the 1950s. Her works often deal with the interplay between found works and her own painterly interventions. Recent exhibitions include Body Doubles, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2015); Unbound: Contemporary Art after Frida Kahlo, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2014); INNER SIGHT/INSIGHT: Driven to Dare, Governors State University, University Park, IL (2014); Look at Me: Portraiture from Manet to the Present, Leila Heller Gallery, New York (2014); Dialogue Chicago: Taking Chances, Noyes Cultural Arts Center, Evanston, IL (2013).


Read MoreRead Less