works by Berenice
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INTRODUCTION CATALOGUE FOR “AN ARTIST’S VISION OF SOUTHERN SWAMPS” , Pensacola museum of Art and Fine Arts Museum of the South at Mobil, 1989

Berenice D’Vorzon entered the American art scene with a one artist show in 1957 at the Brata Gallery in New York City and has been showing her paintings and prints ever since from Rome to Tokyo. She has also hung in a number of important museums such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum in New York, the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, the Allentown and the Everhart Museums in Pennsylvaina, the Aldrich Museum in Connecticut, and the Guild Hall Museum of East Hampton.

Various critics have called attention to anumber of influences in her work including the Luminist landscape painters of the late nineteenth century, to Kandinsky, to deKooning. this writer would add Burchfield and Dove to the list. However, so wide a range of styles and personalities suggests that Ms. D”Vorzon is deeply cognizant of the historic tradition and that she assimilates influences rather than copying others.

Ms. D’Vorzon’s artistic beginnings were at the time of the emergence of the so called New York School which brought with it a greater interest in artistic development in the United States. The movement included both geometric abstraction and the more flamboyant and passionate abstract expressionist style in which the artist “thought in terms of symbolic equivalents of rational forces and symbolic states”.

The modern movement in America was about fifty years old. Arthur G. Dove had painted what may be the first truly abstract work in the world in 1910. (Kadinsky in Europe began paintingabstractly at about the same time.) Dove’s paintings were based on the natural landscape, but he did not remain unique in the abstract style for very long. Within a decade such painters a Marsden Hartley, Joseph Stella, Morgan Russell, Stanton Macdonald Wright and others were painting in the abstract vein. While not fully abstract, the paintings of Georgia O’Keefe, John Marin, Abraham Walkowitz and Charles Burchfield distorted nature to coincide with their own sensitivities and vision. To this mix was added the surrealist movement brought fjjrom Europe by artists fleeding from the Nazis.

Abstract expressionism burst upon the American scene in the 1950’s. But the movement did not spring full blown in an instant nor did it occupy every artist painting at that time. Throughout the ages an expressionist and geometric appporach to the act of creating art have run on parallel tracks, one being in the ascendency for a time and then the other. Abstract and expressionistic qualities have been found much earlier.

D’Vorzon’s artistic beginnings were in the abstract expressionist movement, a movement which too many critics have seen as an isolated phenomenon of great influence, but short duration. She well understood both the psychological and spacial implications of the movement, but in her later work she has added an intensly personalized vision of nature and its sexuality and force. She sought to personally partake of the experience of nature. While a city person, Ms. D’Vorzon summered at the Springs, near East Hampton, Long Island. It was a section of Long Island that attracted a number of New York artists working in varous styles. The natural and uncultivated beauty of the place was the force of its attraction as well as a very special quality of light. Ms. D’Vorzon continued her search for the experience of nature both on Long Island and in the Florida Swamps which she discovered on a visit and to qhich she frequently returns.

Her fascination with images of water and particularly swamps has led her to immerse herself in her subject. The Impressionists painted a single subject in every conceivable light. Ms. D’Vorzon has viewed swamps fromevery possible angle, from flying above them to traveling over them in a small boat. she has photographed and sketched tirelessly until hse has partaken of the essence swamp. She says that she wants to experience nature rahter than to depict it.

While women artists of past generations have considered it a compliment to be told that their work was “strong like a man’s”, Ms. D’Vorzon glories in her femaleness. She relates to the primal forces in nature and produces paintings of equal force. The force of her feeling of being within nature that is both beautiful and terrigying has produced a body of fwork glorious in its color and frantic in its rendition. Ms. D’Vorzon usues her paint with great abandon. It drips and swirls, is transparent as water should be, and yet in other areas, it is thick, almost harsh as it comes from the tube. It is a strong and jpersonal expression of a deeply felt emotion.

Eva Ingersoll Gatling
Curator for the Exhibition