Rocks star inspired by our rugged coastline
A New Jersey artist inspired by Bermuda’s rugged coastline hopes an exhibition of his work will lead to more creative opportunities on the island.
Jason Bereswill said he had been “pulled to paint” since his first trip to Bermuda in 2017 and repeated visits gave him plenty of material for his show, Rocks, at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.
Rocks combines oil paintings created outdoors with larger studio works that draw on sketches and photographs.
Mr Bereswill said: “Close friends of mine, who live here, invited my wife and I to come down for a little vacation to see the island. They knew that I would be interested to paint as soon as I got here and I came ready with paints.
“Most of my work is travel-based and mainly of islands. The majority of my work has been of St Barts.
“It has been great to be able to come here on multiple trips, all different times of the year, really getting to know the island and discovering new spots to paint and having people suggest new places to paint.
“I’m hoping to really dive in deep and that this is maybe just the start of more work here.”
The artist said he was captivated by Bermuda’s “really dramatic rocky beaches” and spent much of his first visit at Horseshoe Bay, then “trying to get farther away from people and into the smaller places”.
Mr Bereswill said: “Typically ,the paintings that I make here don’t have people in them, they’re unpopulated, they’re really about connecting with these incredible geological formations and using that to chase down some sort of connection with the forces that shaped the earth.
“Rocks are a really interesting place to jump in and, especially, I think about painting being maybe the first method of communication — drawings on rocks.
“Making the rock itself the subject — I think there’s an interesting rhythm to that.”
The artist has already dropped off five paintings at Masterworks, which he said could be “rotated in” during the course of the exhibition, which is scheduled to run until May 28.
Mr Bereswill said: “From the moment I arrive on island, I’m pulled to paint, that’s why it feels like this is just the start of something, it’s so exciting.
“Having not grown up here and not had the familiarity with the place since childhood, I think I’m drawn to things that an outsider might be drawn to.
“There are curious views and things that I find fascinating, that had I grown up here I might overlook. That’s one of the really exciting things about making travel paintings — getting to know a new place and trying to remain open about whatever you’re confronted with.”
He added: “It’s such a beautiful island ... there’s something about the coastline here that keeps me coming back.
“There’s an interesting breadth of flora combined with the rocks and there’s incredible oceanic life.”
Rocks featured as part of a double opening event, when John Rankin, the Governor, and Constance Dierman, the US Consul General, unveiled Pairing and Partners: Bermuda and Other Tales, which covers relationships between different works from the Masterworks collection as well as pieces on loan to the museum.
It includes paintings by pioneering photorealist Malcolm Morley, who was one of Mr Bereswill’s early influences and the two artists shared a friend and mentor in Tony Shafrazi, a New York gallery owner and dealer.
Visitors can expect to learn more about the stories that link two otherwise unconnected items.
Tom Butterfield, the founder and creative director of Masterworks, said that the pairings exhibition would provide a representative selection of work from the museum’s archives.
He explained: “It’s harking back to the origins of the collection and is a fast-forward to where we are today because of the things that we’ve been able to acquire.
“It’s a pretty comprehensive show without having to bring out all 1,500 works, so it’s a wonderful sample of the whole collection.”
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