SHANY VAN DEN BERG - Garden of Her dreams


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SHANY VAN DEN BERG - Garden of Her dreams
Jun 22 – Jul 22, 2023

With a practice deeply inspired by nature’s abundance, Shany van den Berg delves her hands into the earth once more for her latest exhibition at Everard Read in Johannesburg. ‘Garden of Her Dreams’ evolves from her 2022 solo in London, ‘Her Garden’, which also drew on previous bodies of work connected to nature, womanhood, and the artist’s place in the world.

At the root of these luscious paintings and bronzes lies a devotion to plant life passed from mother to daughter. These memories and knowledge are nurtured by the cycles of life mirrored in family lines and changing seasons.

A profusion of flowers in her daily life, both real and translated into image, pollinates Van den Berg’s ‘ongoing fascination with the symbolism and multitude of emotions that flora evoke’. For the artist, the delicate petals of flowers carry the weight of ‘love, passion, purity, innocence and death’. This innate richness of meaning allows for a garden – whether literal or painted – to be a place where the soul and body can rest and be replenished.

Keen to reflect the notion of sanctuary in this body of work, Van den Berg brings the outdoors into the canvases’ nocturnal narratives with her burgeoning floral arrangements. These bouquets are inspired by Van den Berg’s own sculptures, by dreams and impressions, with incongruent blooms chosen for their enchanting form and colour, and their capacity to uplift. Each painted flower is treated as a portrait.

Elsewhere, female forms are at rest surrounded by exuberant vegetation and beguiling flowers. For the artist, they are ‘resting in the otherworldly garden of my dreams, encircled by luscious foliage and the fragrance of the moon flower’. Referencing iconic reclining nudes by masters like Delacroix, Velázquez and Moore, the women also denote Gaia – nurturer of all.

The proliferation of birds encircling some of the figures evokes the spiritual messaging between the heavens and the earth; the fluttering of wings is also ‘akin to the swirling of thought’. They tap into the responsibility an artist has to manifest their message through their work. In Van den Berg’s instance, this is the absolute necessity for growth, communion, rest, and self-reflection in order to preserve the beauty of the Earth 

For more information contact Stephanie Le Roy