Four Artists Put New Works on Display at Michael Berger Gallery

By Shaw, Kurt | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 2, 2007 | Go to article overview

Four Artists Put New Works on Display at Michael Berger Gallery


Shaw, Kurt, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


At the Michael Berger Gallery in Point Breeze, the exhibit "mind/ body/spirit" examines the collective state of consciousness through the work of four different artists.

For example, Huang Xiang and William Rock live in Pittsburgh, but couldn't be more different. Huang is a dissident Chinese poet who spent more than 10 years in prison for refusing to submit to the Communist Party propaganda machine. Rock is a dual citizen of Ireland and the United States. Yet these two artists' works come together wonderfully in nine larger-than-life portraits on display.

Six of them take up an entire room in the back of the gallery, offering a place of contemplation on the lives of the persons depicted: Martin Luther King, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Mohandas Gandhi, Emily Dickinson, William Shakespeare and Isadora Duncan.

Each portrait was painted by Rock, but the calligraphic writing of Huang's poetry is by Huang, with translated excerpts from each hanging next to the canvases.

For example, next to Elizabeth Barrett Browning's it reads: "Sadness, sadness ... sadness; Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Elizabeth; your love story is like; of nightfall the memory of a spider comes dripping ..."

Many Pittsburghers know Huang is the first writer to be sponsored by Cities of Asylum/Pittsburgh, living in a North Side rowhouse, provided by the group, that is just a few doors down from the Mattress Factory. But what most don't know, is that Huang, 65, will soon leave Pittsburgh for New York City, with the intent of furthering his career, making this one of the few chances left to find out more about this most interesting artist and a city resident.

Another artist in the exhibition who left Pittsburgh for New York is Philip Pearlstein. Of course, that was more than a half-century ago when Pearlstein skipped town with a young Andy Warhol, sharing an eighth-floor walkup tenement apartment on St. Mark's Place in the summer of 1949.

Born in Pittsburgh in 1924, Pearlstein has returned many times over the years, mostly at the prompting of scores of enthusiastic collectors here who are fascinated with his work.

Gallery owner Michael Berger is one of them, having not only collected, but shown Pearlstein's work for nearly three decades.

"Pearlstein is strictly surface," Berger is quick to point out -- a rationalization of sorts about the nine prints by the artist on display.

The most memorable of these works may be "Models with Mirror," in which two female figures are seen as more than just academic subjects. …

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