Artist: Nora Berman
Exhibition title: Shhh
Venue: Weiss Falk, Basel, Switzerland
Date: October 15 – November 26, 2016
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Weiss Falk, Basel
Words by Andrew Berardini
Ghost lover. Intimate stranger. Will he carry you through your dreams tonight?
If sleep should not come, you will wait for him. Tangled bedsheets and the pills re- fuse slumber. You rise in the darkness, diaphanous shadows, moonglow mixes with streetlights. Tracing your visions over the paper past late hours, your hands replace his, instead of your body a sheet. Your fingers linger and swoop, dance and drag. Lips follow fingers, teeth follow lips, the slip of a tongue. Fantasies made flesh with a flick of your wrist. It’s all in your hands as sleep whips and curls but still does not come. All the visions he might pull from your dreams, you shape and contour with mysterious markings and cryptic messages, with creamy blue spit and deadly pink smoke that veils and unfurls through mysterious atmospheres. Those fingers trans- form into anemones, a thousand tentacles each with a suck and sting, drawing you closer into his mouth.
Is he real, your ghost lover? Or have you just invented him? An incubus sent by Asmodeus, your lust for him feels spectral, a dark glow from an ancient fire. He is a muse, master, companion, friend, slave. You don’t care if he’s real or not. If he did not exist, you would have easily invented him.
The colors wash and fold, setting suns and dying volcanoes, a cosmogony emer- ges. Choirs of angels and gangs of demons, gods and monsters, soothsaying stars and intimate fetishes, spells and incantations summon spirits you invent with each supple turn. Shamans and warlocks, witches and priestesses emerge from the smoke at the edge of consciousness and disappear just as quickly into the dance of your hand as it goes screaming across the page, drowning out their songs and chants into the silence of pictures.
You call up an altar and lay your own body upon it, both fold and ribbon into each other and the difference between what you can make with your hands and what is real, dissolve into a mist. An ethereal electricity shoots from your fingers. You beg- an with nothing but materials. The jerk and pull of lust has brought you here.
Is that you Nora Berman? Tucked between hills of Los Angeles in your midnight studio, what graven images you have drawn, what countries you have created out of your waking dreams. Yves Tanguy loaned you his spell book. William Blake’s prayers come slipping through an open window carried by a Santa Ana wind, a low moan (is it yours?) echoes against the walls and settles into a paintbrush.
Is the ghost lover yours or are you his? Coming in the dark to tempt and tease, to form fantasy and fill the long hours, stoking desire only to leave behind a wet painting.
Nora Berman, Jump, 2016
Ink and Oil on Muslin, 116 x 96 cm
Nora Berman, Flying Dog (Mordecai), 2016
Ink and Oil on Muslin, 106 x 100 cm
Nora Berman, Breath of Fire, 2016
Ink and Oil on Muslin, 118 x 101 cm
Nora Berman, Banger, 2016
Ink, Oil and Charcoal on Muslin, 170 x 209 cm
Nora Berman, Bubbles over Dawn, 2016
Ink and Oil on Muslin, 107 x 102 cm
Nora Berman, Ruffles, 2016
Ink, Oil and Crayon on Muslin, 116 x 169 cm
Nora Berman, Fish Tank (Caeser‘s Palace), 2016
Ink, Oil and Charcoal on Muslin, 160 x 208 cm