Responding to the environmental and social devastation caused by natural disasters, Tom Berenz depicts the physical remnants of man-made structures subsumed by the crushing forces of nature. In his painting titled Target, a building sits in ruin, its exterior ripped open to reveal a tangled mass of collapsed beams- the complex grid of its structural framework reduced to a collision of metal and concrete wreckage. Using muted tones and austere geometric forms, Berenz imbues this image of sensationalist destruction with an almost meditative stillness.
For the past four years, Tom Berenz has worked on a series of disaster paintings, each inspired by photographs documenting the aftermath of natural tragedies across the United States. These works emphasize form over narrative. In his latest large-scale paintings, Berenz rejects painterly and gestural forms in favor of flat, precise paint application and hard-edged geometric shapes. This results in a striking dichotomy between the strong emotional subtext of the work and the stark rigidity of its execution.
text by Jane Simon, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art