Berrío’s new works are finally seeing the light of day in a physical exhibition at Victoria Miro Gallery II, “Flowered Songs and Broken Currents,” which runs through November 27th. Her spectacular, rich imagery is one of the most distinctive aspects of her figurative works, whether large-scale or small. The cyclical rhythms of nature provide the atmosphere for her intimate scenes, which explode with blossoming bougainvillea, pink roses, and abundant peonies—signs of spring and also of hope, which feel even more poignant now than when she began making them. Delicate, collaged layers of soft Japanese paper dyed with flowers and watercolor also allude to nature and its inexorable laws—one of the pervasive themes in Berrío’s new works.
One vast painting of a tree bursting with fruit, Miracles of Ordinary Light (2020), is an unusual work for Berrío in that it’s absent of figures. Regardless, it’s the beating heart of this exhibition, expressing parallels between the natural world and the experiences of the women in her paintings. The work forms a beautiful symbiosis with Clouded Infinity (2020), a monumental portrait of a seated woman depicted at “around four months pregnant,” Berrío said. That piece is inspired by her research into small fishing villages in her native Colombia. There, life has long been disrupted and destroyed by natural and political catastrophes, and yet “life continues—women have given birth in every kind of situation, they adapt and go on,” Berrío said. “Who we are is so close to nature—we are vessels, we are powerful creatures. That’s not to say men are not, but what a woman’s body and soul carries is very special, it represents a magical and unknown world. For me, painting women is such an honor.”