by Jerry ElengicalJun 01, 2022
Can there be beauty in destruction? They say that there is always a good in everything. Even the COVID-19 pandemic, though created a global havoc, helped reduce pollution and taught us ways to effectively work remotely, reducing our carbon footprint. Artist Simon Berger breaks glass, literally. He creates intricate imagery by cracking toughened glass in a highly controlled way. Unbreakable Identities will be presented as a parallel event of Salone del Mobile, Milan. Gallotti & Radice, in collaboration with Salvioni Design Solutions, will display an exclusive collection that celebrates shattered glass as a work of art.
Some of the most sought-after work of Berger is the hyper realistic portraiture, often of women. “Human faces have always fascinated me. On glass, these motifs come into their own and magically attract the viewer. It is a process of discovery from abstract fogging to figurative perception,” explains Berger. His practice straddles strength while being fragile, and this aspect comes through in his imagery as much as it does in the use of the material and the very process. Large faces with a fixated gaze offer a sense of vulnerability. They remain anonymous and the ‘whole’ is formed through what appears to be pieces of shards.
Art writer Vivienne Heinzelmann writes on Berger: “Contrary to expectations of how glass should be handled cautiously to ensure its integrity, Berger makes use of the material’s brittleness to develop his artistic language. Reminiscent of sculptural techniques, a hammer is used to imprint the highlighted facial features into the sheet of glass.” Watching Berger create his work is fascinating and awe-inspiring. An initially transparent pane of glass, it becomes partially opaque with the controlled shattering of the glass, creating fractures which are subject to the material’s physical laws. The use of safety glass allows for the piece to remain intact. The play of light adds to the experience of the work. "The incidence of light is reflected by the fragments and cracks within the glass, making the artwork's surface gleam and glisten and depending on the illumination, it seems as if the portrait itself were glowing,” says Heinzelmann.
Berger’s approach is experimental in nature. He has been trying out new styles and developing new techniques and ways of working with glass. In the past he has worked with spray painting, anamorphism of faces using jeans and t-shirts, and car carcasses. He is a carpenter by training and all the experiences have given him the skills to produce his art at the highest technical level and precision, allowing for lots of possibilities. One of the most fascinating aspects for Berger is to create works for a live audience. “The experience of being present at the production of the work creates a strong emotional connection to the art,” he says. As one hears the noise and feels the force of the hammer, it becomes all the clearer that Berger uses a unique technique.
Unbreakable Identities aims to bring out the soul of glass, a material that has always been part of the historical legacy of Gallotti & Radice. Through Berger’s art, simple glass panes come alive. The press-note of the show writes: This ‘breaking art’ can’t fail, the visual prevails in such a way that the spectator’s brain needs a few seconds to grasp the true depth of the art. Its distinctive sign is one that of an ode to the portrait and, more specifically, to faces and feminine features that the artist enhances in a fine and at the same time solid way, an interior beauty that isn’t visible at first sight and that hides in the unthinkable. Breaking that glass is not an impossible task and it is not only a right, but also a duty. Female identities therefore become indestructible and unbreakable and are the result of a figurative perception that is revealed through the extraordinary art.
Born in 1976, Berger grew up in Herzogenbuchsee in Switzerland, and now lives and works in his studio in Niederönz. Up next, he is looking forward to Serpenti at BVLGARI Zurich, Glasstress 2022 at Fondazione Berengo, Venice, and his participation at the Sculpture Garden Geneva Biennale.
STIR takes you on a Milanese sojourn! Experience Salone del Mobile and all the design districts - 5vie, Brera, Fuorisalone, Isola, Zona Tortona, and Durini - with us. STIR’s coverage of Milan Design Week 2022, Meanwhile in Milan showcases the best exhibits, moods, studios, events, and folks to look out for. We are also excited to announce our very own STIR press booth at Salone del Mobile - Hall 5/7 S.14, Fiera Milano RHO.