a hypothetical human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature : a desire or tendency to commune with nature
“Biophilic Harmonies” explores human interactions with the natural world and how these interactions are expressed as desires and emotional constructs. Through painting and mixed media, the work combines abstract organic forms with physical natural elements to represent the human affinity for nature – or biophilia. The interplay between the conceptual and the formal elements in each piece creates a visual garden. Emotional experiences are the premise of the work, and the mark-making process serves to deepen mental awareness of one’s place in the natural world.
In response to lengthy spells of indoor isolation, societal anxiety and loss during the pandemic, Berkowitz began to incorporate plants and natural elements into the artwork to recreate a fusion between human spiritual experience and nature. The artwork engages the viewer through textured techniques and intricate abstract painting methods, using various materials such as wax, copper oxides, glass particulates and real plants themselves. Heightened desires to be released from enclosures are expressed through the structural compositions.
The paintings draw inspiration from bio-architecture in-person visits, such as Sfer Ik by Azulik in Mexico, the Los Angeles masterpiece the John Sowden House (a temple-like structure constructed to represent organic animal and plant forms), as well as residential modern, earth-tone developments at the Vintage in palm desert that Berkowitz photographed. California sunlight plays a role in the palette and color tones of this current work. Abstract female contemporary artists such as Julie Mehretu and Christina Quarles that use a dynamic range of techniques to convey painterly fluidity and formal perspective are referenced in the work.
The paintings serve as an escape from an anxious reality, allowing the viewer to get lost into a contemplative mindset, similar to that found in natural environments. By using a mix of both dried and alive plant matter, the work itself is alive and will change as time progresses. The cyclical nature of the work highlights the idea of rebirth and renewal, reminding the viewer to breathe and slow down. There are references to man-made architectural structures hidden within the paintings, depicting the space that the work has been made in and to time-stamp the art-making process.
Rachel Berkowitz (b. 1993) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Born in Columbus, Ohio, and raised in London, Rachel Berkowitz graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from the UCLA School of Art and Architecture in 2016..