Kelly Berg’s dynamic paintings and multi-layered works evoke the turbulence of geological processes in both color and form. Voluminous layers of paint, sparkling mineral tones and bold permutations in depth create a sense of the earth’s monumental energy in flux. Her work captures moments of rupture where tectonic plates converge, mountain ranges lurch forth and volcanoes erupt spewing molten lava and ash. Often we see hints of landscape, a sky, and fierce weather conditions, framed by sculpted accumulations of paint. Dense, dark and magma-like forms settle around vibrant depictions of stalagmites and stalactites rendered elegantly in artist’s ink and scratchboard technique. Shards of glass and mirror, like volcanic glass, emanate from organic mounds of vibrant color that appear wet and mineral-rich.
Berg’s earliest artistic influences came from family trips to places like Badlands National Park in South Dakota, where she saw dramatic rock formations for the first time as a child. Her love affair with geology, excavation, meteorology and nature’s wrath has exponentially grown over the years and is often deepened by travel to places like Pompeii, Saqqara and most recently, Volcanoes National Park. Traversing the rim of Kilauea’s caldera, (the most active volcano of the Hawaiian islands) in 2013, the artist was captivated by the sculptural quality and brilliant iridescent colors of the freshly cooled lava fields. Her latest work is a meditation on what she witnessed there and a further exploration of her desire to push the boundaries of paint.
Berg does not hesitate with the application of her paint. Her work is often sculpted right off the canvas and is bursting with energy and three-dimensionality. Like her subject matter, her materials seem uncontainable. They pour over, redefining the space of the canvas or the clay board on which she works. Her palette is rich and resolute. She is as comfortable using the metallic tones of the California finish fetish artists as she is the day-glow orange and red of volcanic fire. The works in Divergent Earth demonstrate Berg’s willingness to disrupt any preconceptions about landscape painting. They illustrate perpetual forces of magnitude and moments of metamorphosis, where the interior and exterior of the earth are simultaneously exposed in fragments of visual thunder.
Kelly Berg was born in Concord, Massachusetts and raised outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. She received her her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the Rhode Island School of Design and has maintained a studio in Los Angeles since 2009. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at The Barrick Museum, The Carnegie Art Museum, The Manhattan Beach Art Center, Mana Contemporary and the Lancaster Museum of Art and History, among other notable venues.