Born in Dublin, Seamus Berkeley grew up in Canada and New England.
The cover artist for the Taos News’ 2018 annual Holiday Guide, Taos Aglow, Seamus is no stranger to Taos.
He moved here first in 1999, drawn to its diverse artistic community. The work he made here over the following five years, was inspired and informed by the place and its people. In 2005, Seamus opened a studio in Berkeley, California and divides his time between there and here, travelling abroad as often as he can, especially to Ireland.
His memories of Ireland as well as growing up the child of expats in North America, certainly played a part in feeding his creative imagination.
He says now, that having parents from a different continent gives one a unique perspective that is separate from natural born citizens of a country.
“There’s no question that one has another point of view coming from a different background than what the “locals’ (in any community), have; there’s even a certain dissonance perhaps.” He says.
Seamus Berkeley’s paintings are extensively collected nationally and internationally, with most of his work being commissioned. Oils are his primary medium, and he is known for his figurative work as well as portraits. His work is painterly and impressionistic.
“In 2016 my mother died,” he told me when we spoke by phone last week. “I was intimately involved in caretaking (here in Taos) for two years, and after she passed, I began spending more time seeking solace in Nature.”
“There’s this special place I would go to outside Angel Fire – Coyote Creek – and I’d camp there by myself, it was an incredibly healing time for me, and I learned there, that Nature speaks in silence.” He told me.
Berkeley was in Silver City that day, but kindly took time out to speak with me about his upcoming show at Georgia Gersh’s Magpie (opening this Saturday, April 6th.) The small paintings he is showing at Magpie through April are more akin to the Taos Aglow piece; a departure from the figurative, settling rather unsurprisingly on the natural landscape, these jewel-like pieces glow from within, capturing as they do, the magical and transient beauty of light itself.
I asked him about the small scale of these paintings, wondering if he felt at all restricted by their size.
“Not really,” he replied. “In fact I think I’m more free with them than I am with larger works and perhaps that’s because in some way I see hem as studies for larger paintings.”
I mentioned that smaller pieces are easier to sell as well, both to young people just beginning to collect art, as well as to long time collectors who might have limited wall space.’
“Yes,” he answered, “that’s true and you have no idea how many collectors I know who don’t have room for the large paintings they buy, and just keep them piled up in storage!”
Berkeley says that mostly he just enjoys creating art that speaks to the viewer. “My primary goal is to make a good painting.” He explained, “a good painting has the power to evoke a memorable experience.”
“The beauty of making art is not only in the completed work but in its process.” He says, “and of course the end result is that work of art to be shared by others.”
For more on Seamus Berkeley and the opening of his new show, In This Very Moment, at Magpie, at the Overland Ranch Complex, this Saturday from 5-7 pm, please visit the sites linked below.
All images thanks to Seamus Berkeley