I opened my paper this morning – a day late – and found an obituary for Adrian Berg. I loved his painting, and he has really influenced my view of colours – and now I often see my garden (and often my knitting / spinning as well) through an almost Adrian-Berglike eye.
Gloucester Gate, Regent’s Park – from the Government Art Collection
He’s not as well known as he should be, which is an enormous shame, though I expect this will change. I can’t count the number of times I’ve waxed lyrical about Berg, only to be met by blank looks – but then that was my original reaction when I was told about him too, several years ago. I had a friend who was a textile designer and, perhaps unsurprisingly, also a huge Berg fan. He introduced me to his work via a rather manky catalogue covered in paint and ink stains, and I was hooked. Full marks to my friend Paul for spotting that I would become just as addicted as he was…
Gloucester Gate, Regent’s Park, autumn, winter, spring, 1977-79; Christies
The often flat perspectives frequently remind me of Egyptian tomb paintings (once an archaeologist, always an archaeologist), but the colours are unlike anything else. Hints of some of Howard Hodgkin’s, perhaps, and a tip of the hat in the direction of Monet’s later work, but absolutely and unmistakeably and wonderfully Adrian Berg.
Gloucester Gate, Regent’s Park, February, March, April, May, June, 1977; from various auction sites
I tend to think of his work as being autumnal in its colour range, even when it’s clearly representing another time of year, but that’s just the impact of a catalogue from a 1986 show at the Serpentine Gallery I found in a second-hand bookshop a few years ago. It’s worth hunting out his paintings of Sheffield Park, too. Couldn’t find any online immediately, but you never know. I expect – sadly – he’ll get a lot more attention now he’s died. It’s (almost) always the way.
This is Regent’s Park in February 1963.
Photo from the Guardian, courtesy of Gillian Jason Modern and Contemporary Art/ Nicholas Sinclair
You can find an excellent obituary here, at the Guardian.
(All images, by the way, are from various easily accessible and mainstream websites, and are all copyright Adrian Berg… I’ve kept the file sizes small deliberately, but it’s worth checking out his website – the link is at the top – for more. The Gallery there is under construction, so it’s a taster at present.)