Tom Berg Paintings


Tom Berg is a Santa Fe artist...

known for his paintings of chairs which have been a focus of his work since his first chair paintings of the late 1970’s.    However, his work has also incorporated subjects as varied as farm animals, architecture, clothes lines, swimming pools and hand tools, painted in a manner that moves across modes of landscape painting, still life painting and portraiture.

He often paints his subject “en plein aire”, though treated in a manner somewhat skewed from a traditional approach to still life and landscape.

The work is characterized by its frontality and emphasis on the picture plane, and the artist’s attention to the geometry of composition,  executed with a painterly brush. The focus of the work seems to be more about confrontation and presence than with the identity of the objects portrayed, and the paintings move from humor and irony to contemplation and a kind of pathos.

In a 1997 catalog essay, the Taos critic, Tom Collins said of the work:


        “The object of our gaze is the chair, but the chair is not the subject of the painting.  Tom Berg’s “chair paintings” as they are correctly yet inaccurately called, are so easily seen that they are nearly invisible. 

     .....we have looked at these chairs, grouped and alone, open and folded, lounging poolside, draped and spectral, stately on the lawn.  We recognize them so readily, know them so intimately.

     The chair is empty, always.   It is passive, vacant and appealing.   It beckons an occupant. The eye “reads” it, sinks into it, lazily, without protest.   The eye rests.   Life exists just outside the edge of the painting and is suggested fully by its complete absence.   The painting is active, sometimes haunting.  

     At times, as we study the architecture of the chair, the thing we know as “chair” becomes completely unrecognizable, just as a word, when repeated over and over, will cease to be intelligible.”

                                                                               Tom Collins, October 1997