02/12/19 The Secrets
29,7 x 21 cm
Ink & acrylics on found paper
From the exhibition You've Changed 2019
Tina Berning 'The Secrets'
Tina Berning grew up in a small town near the South German Alps, studied graphic design in Nuremberg and has been living in Berlin for 20 years. Her Illustrations are published in international magazines such as The New York Times or the Sunday Times Magazine she illustrates classic literature, designs book covers or creates visuals for cultural institutions such as the Deutsches Theater. But above all, she indulges in her free artistic work, which is frequently exhibited and for the first time to be seen in Belgium.
„It can be very fruitful to do both, work on your free artistic position and accept assignments. Personally I like to play with those two different starting points,“ she says. „Take the project for the Deutsches Theater in Berlin. I was reading all 25 theatre plays staged that season, to draw along. A decision I was given but that was encouraging me to explore areas that otherwise would have slipped my attention. That is incredibly enriching and always reflecting in my free artistic work.
Since 2004 I am keeping a drawing diary, published online since, kind of an instagram avant-la-lettre. I file one drawing a day mostly following my passion for figuration, the imagery of the female body and what that evokes and radiates. Why predominantly women? Well, the representation of women is fascinating to me as an icon of our cultural history, think of ‘Mary with child‘. Looking at Art History almost all pictures are painted by men, whereas almost all nudes are women.
We all know that the representation of the female body is severely manipulated. But are we aware how far we have already been manipulated ourselves, no matter how critical we may be?
Comparing pictures from old and recent magazines. The nowadays uniformity is striking: for example, you will only find one stereotype breast in slight variations. Stumbling upon a picture of a bare 60ies breast, in harmony with age and gravity, you are startled first (upon age and gravity) until you recall that breasts look like this, most of them, do. They are just not to be seen.
Drawing for me is above all looking, understanding seeing. From life but often from vintage photos, old books I collect at flea markets, random material that is washed up in my studio. How does the representation of the woman in a book called „Women in Paris“ from the 1960s differ from that of today? What is timeless about it? I detach from context and start sketching with no certain intention. I don’t make up but find, stumble upon an expression, a strange shadow, a posture and suddenly a human being is looking back at me from the sheet. From old paper mostly, made in and intended for another time, but now reused merging it’s traces with my newborn figure made from looking at echoes of different times. Re-cycling.
Hundreds of drawings find their way to two boxes. Not so good’ versus ‘not so bad’. In a third box the leftovers are released for collages. The boxes fill up, I leave them untouched for days, weeks, sometimes months.
Only then to look at them again and suddenly, with this distance, with a different state of mind finding an expression. It goes from one stack to another, if the right addition is made, sooner or later. Or not at all. What attracts me in drawing is the immediacy and the pace. It’s about a few fast strokes. The right strokes, however, that the observer must be able to continue. Strokes that circumscribe blank space, space to determine the image yourself, depending on your own context, history. How personal this interpretation is, was shown in the project ‘100 girls on cheap paper’, which resulted in a book and three exhibitions, in Berlin, New York and Tokyo. The spectators everywhere reacted enthusiastically, but everyone had their own favourite piece. How do I create an exhibition? Since I develop a large body of work with my diary principle, i have a lot of bits and pieces to select from. Combining the drawings anew opens space for new associations, blowing up smaller drawings from the boxes suddenly leads to surprising answers. It’s intuitionally pushing around puzzle pieces that fall in place not before the very end - panic attacks assured’, she says laughingly. The new exhibition is called ‘You’ve Changed’, after Billie HoIiday, ‘maybe, but there’s so much you can do with it. The drawing has changed, the woman, our relationships. A total of 30 to 40 pieces, smaller drawings in a cabinet hanging, larger pieces on paper mounted on canvas. All the result of looking. Drawing is learning to see, a search for the special in the ordinary. Without cynicism, I look with a warm heart at the woman, at the man’.