Mutt Life | Eva Beresin

November 11, 2021December 11, 2021

Eva Beresin thinks fast, paints fast and has a quick sense of humor. Her personal style is that of a funky teen; but, you’d be sorely mistaken if you were fooled or put off by the apparent frivolity of her enterprise. Her skills are razor sharp and underlie a deep thoughtfulness and intelligence. Her paintings cloak both herself and various members of her immediate family in lighthearted, riotously colorful scenarios, often of the domestic variety. As most of our relatives are so universally…umm… “special”, need we look any further?

The mundane daily occurrences of life, shopping, sharing meals, and playing games together come across as funny – mostly by way of cartoonishly distorted, engorged hands, feet and facial features. Yet lurking not too far underneath the surface, the images are imbued with a more melancholic notion of the absurd, grotesque, and forlorn. Beresin explains: “I found myself unattractive for a lifetime – only my hands, feet, and skin were highlights [for me]. Maybe that's why unconsciously it always comes out that way. Hands and especially feet have a very strong expression for me anyway. Both my parents [who suffered unspeakably in concentration camps – only her mother survived] were extremely elegant and blessed with great taste. The story of where I come from and who I am today seems an inexhaustible source.”

The wedding of humor and horror, contradictory impulses wherein one laughs in the face of impending old age, bodily decay, and sundry tragedies, are survival methods, defense mechanisms in a world typified by gratuitous violence and unprovoked death; something I can readily relate to since entering similar, excessively unpleasant territory myself. But ageing, however ungracefully, is better than the alternative—I think.

Beresin brings to mind, more than any other artist for me, the works of Belgian painter James Ensor (1860-1949). Little traveled in his lifetime, he dwelt in a bizarre, wildly colorful landscape, primarily peopled by those closest to him. Ensor’s art was characterized by Los Angeles County Museum of Art director Michael Govan as conveying an acute sense of aggressive sarcasm and scatology, sentiment that equally applies to Beresin. Eva replaces the masks frequently featured Ensor’s works with everyday faces of her friends, family and a potpourri of crazed looking animals resembling anything other than a state of flattery.

Eva Beresin’s paintings are equal measure seductive, hilarious and disturbing. While being lulled into a false sense of comforting entertainment, Eva hits us over the head after luring us with her unparalleled, unbridled symbolically violent and unsettling imagery—nothing less than a thoroughly enjoyable horror show!

-Kenny Schachter