Amy Beager: Paradise

20 October - 18 November 2023 Berlin

Private View: Thursday 19th of October, 6:30 - 8:30pm  


Within a series of dreamscapes – burrows, caves, forests, islands and oceans – ethereal figures embrace, collapse and melt into their surroundings. Amy Beager’s latest series of paintings continue her fascination with Greek mythology and fairy tales to explore the idea of and longing for paradise. Her solo exhibition at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery in Berlin takes us on a journey into a watery world where scenes of romance and tragedy play out as hallucinatory visions, feverish dreams.
Beager’s work explores the boundaries between the body and nature, reality and the spiritual or supernatural. While her compositions often refer to motifs from art history or specific mythological narratives, the colours, lines and textures develop through the painting process, resulting in fluid, textured forms that seem to merge in and out of focus. This latest body of work, in particular, explores our relationship to and dependence on the natural world, not just plant life but also animals. 
A series of works on paper feature depictions of the artist’s cat Ashitaka in brightly coloured, other-worldly spaces that feel almost shine-like. In one, he is elevated to the status of a saint or angel, with a thin luminous halo floating above his head. These works were created following the cat’s diagnosis with cancer and they are revealing not just of Beager’s deep love and respect for the animal, but of her admiration for his resilience and majesty.
Other, larger-scale paintings depict instances of human love and sorrow. After Etty, an interpretation of a William Etty painting based on the Greek myth of Hero and Leander, envisions the tragic reunion of two lovers. As the story goes, Leander swims each night across the ocean to meet with Hero who lives in a tower on an opposite island; however, one night he drowns in a storm. In Beager’s painting, his body is still half submerged in the water, while Hero appears to have thrown herself down the rocks in grief, her arms cradling his head. 
In Burrow and Sky, we again encounter two figures locked in a romantic embrace, but rather than being exposed to the elements they are cocooned in a cave, their limbs entwining not just with one another’s but with the vines and leaves that grow up around them. Meanwhile, in Immortality Tree a figure’s body has melded into a tree, their limbs inextricable from its trunk and roots. In a sense, both of these works are a depiction of the life cycle in which we are sustained by and eventually returned to the earth. 
For Beager, paradise is equated with this symbiotic relationship to nature, but also with a kind of self sacrificial desire, in which the individual is subsumed by their love for another. This love, as depicted in Beager’s works, has the ability to transcend boundaries of place, time and even species. It is dangerous, all encompassing and startlingly beautiful.