Scenes peeking into the ubiquitous life of London residents form the creative foundation for a series of poignant portraits made of azure and bright navy swatches. Framed within the lonely enclaves of home life, the settings of many of the graceful, hyper-detailed portraits are fixated on an isolated interior. Wide, cinematic tableaus of a woman just waking up to bright sunlight is mirrored in two other similarly evocative visuals of a sleeping girl in a rumpled camisole. These three pieces along with a handful of others constitute a collection titled, Behind Closed Doors. The portraits of day-to-day life filled out in the medium of denim is all the work of visual artist, Ian Berry.
The artist develops his work by selecting individual pieces of denim and certifying each is a unique wash. Afterward, all the many denim parts are layered to produce a three-dimensional collage effect. All together, the pieces collate into an established image from afar, bringing together light, color, and many of the elements of classic painting style.
“Admittedly at the beginning I often used parts like the pockets and seams to kind of say, 'Hey look, it's denim,' but now I use all those parts in a way to not show it's denim. Sometimes, this has been too successful though. [It’s] maybe a compliment when people mistake it for a photo-realistic painting, but often people don’t get to the ‘aha!’ factor when the penny drops—it’s denim! But can be fun to see it."
"But for me," the artist continues. "It is not about it being about denim. It’s just my medium. Yes, it helps, but it’s not about the material foremost… I see it as very much an urban material now. I love urban society and all the layers and depth within it and for me, what better way to portray contemporary life and issues than with the material of our time."
"Often people will ask if I would use another material. But I'm always finding new ways to use the denim which excites me so much, and as they are so time-consuming, I have so many ideas left of what to do. I like that while denim is a material with rural beginnings I see it as an urban material now. I love urban society and all the layers and depth within it and for me, what better way to portray contemporary life and issues than with the material of our time."
The artist also admits to a long-winded struggle with reconciling the space of being an artist, owning his craft, and balancing the artistic and commerce-prompted opportunities coming his way. He shares with The Creators Project the outcome of experiencing a wildly successful show, with its attached blessings and curses, “With success came a lot of pressure. In 2013, I had a show I had worked my ass off for, it sold before the opening and the press gave it great reviews, but I went back to the studio and it was empty. I was no longer surrounded by my own work and lost my confidence in the ability to make it. It coincided with my son's birth and I was pulled in all directions, and stretched thinly. I totally crashed.”
Ian Berry’s most recent collection of works is showing at Catto Gallery, Hampstead, London. Find more information about the show, here. To see more from Ian Berry, visit his website here, and his Instagram, here.