Ellen Berkenblit: Umberville
@ Corbett vs. Dempsey
2156 W Fulton St, Chicago, IL 60612
On view through Saturday, October 8th
Corbett vs. Dempsey is elated to present Ellen Berkenblit, Umberville. This is the artist’s debut exhibition with the gallery and her first solo show in Chicago.
In the preface to his book Difference and Repetition, philosopher Gilles Deleuze wrote: “I make, remake and unmake my concepts along a moving horizon, from an always decentered center, from an always displaced periphery which repeats and differentiates them.” In her latest body of work, a baker’s dozen of which constitute Umberville, Ellen Berkenblit (b. 1958) makes, remakes, and unmakes a series of images upon just such a moving horizon. Her paintings take as their armature a relatively narrow set of images – in this case, a young woman’s face in profile (common to many of her works over the last three decades), cherubic angel-boys, a leopard or tiger, a bottle dispensing liquid, a gramophone’s horn or the tubing of a French horn, radioactive flowers. These images are repeated and are also never repeated; they are always unique but strictly remade, unmade, reinvented. Most of all, Berkenblit’s paintings present an occasion – an occasion for the application of paint and play with brushy forms, for the unbridled joy of a line or a passage or a daub, a scumble or the introduction of a new pigment. Indeed, in these works a whole new hue has entered the pictures, a group of burnt umbers that have deepened and enriched her palette. The classic flashes of thermonuclear brightness appear, the pinks, purples, reds, greens, blues, but there’s an earth-tone baseline that is fresh and exciting. And the paintings are expansive, including the extraordinary “Lumivores” at 76 x 114 inches, allowing Berkenblit ample space for virtuosic brushwork and devilish image-making, a huge expanse for the articulation of her decentered centers, the plotting of her displaced peripheries, and continued extension of her constantly moving horizon.
A longstanding and beloved figure in the New York art scene, Berkenblit’s exhibitions over the last five years include a two-person show with Somaya Critchlow at Grice Bench, Los Angeles (2021); Susanne Vielmetter, Los Angeles/Culver City (2019, 2022); Anton Kern, New York (2017, 2018, 2020); a project at MCA Chicago (2019); “Lines Roar” at the Drawing Center, New York (2018); One Night Only, Dallas (2019), Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels (2018).
The exhibition Umberville is accompanied by a 44-page fully-illustrated catalog with an essay by Miciah Hussey.
Image: Ellen Berkenblit, Tincture of a Bouquet, 2022, oil on linen, 89 x 76 inches.
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