At first glance, many believe that Ian Berry’s work are blue toned photographs or indigo colored oil paintings. This is not only when viewed online or in print, when much of the depth and detail is lost, but even up close. Even at touching distance, many viewers don’t realize that they are looking at many layers, and shades, of denim jeans.
But of course it is testament to his work that it is not all about it being made in old jeans that makes it special. It is simply his medium for seeing the world, his paint, and what a material to use in this modern world; with all its symbols and dualities, as well as being such a common item of clothing that unites many around the globe.
To see them up close, you become aware of the depth and texture and see how each small piece of denim has been considered and crafted out of jeans with washes, and fades, which help create that painterly tone.
This is no gimmick. To create a shiny metallic surface or a polished bar top out of denim, it is staggering to see. He creates melancholic urban scenes, often depicting a lonely or less glamorous side of city living. He says denim is now such an urban fabric, after having such rural origins. What better way to capture everyday urban life.
It is hard to believe that this all started by one simple observation. Noticing a pile of old jeans and noticing the contrasting shades of blue. Some scissors and glue later he soon became one of the most talked about young artists. While he acknowledges that it started out as an experiment, while working with denim he started to realize his own connection with jeans – and especially other people’s. A material that we feel so comfortable with. He had found his way to communicate and then soon became written about as a leading top 30 artist under 30 in the world. His success has caught many eyes and while the works are painstaking to make he had been able to take a few commissioned portraits; Debbie Harry, Jennifer Saunders, Giorgio Armani and Lapo Elkann and Brazilian model Giselle. To name a few. His most well known though, was one made of another Brazilian, Ayrton Senna, using his family's jeans and in support of the institute in his name.
His work has been seen in many countries, giving a chance for people to see the work in person. With a number of sell-out solo shows in London and Sweden, he has also shown across Europe and the States, including the home of the modern jean, San Francisco. It has been written about in major media in all corners of the globe.
For more check out www.ianberry.org