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Melanie Berman explores the language of lyrical abstraction within joyful action paintings. She draws from traditional and contemporary techniques, combining intuitive gestures with precise, considered forms to create a sense of fluid motion. The surfaces are erased, repainted, smoothed or left slightly raised. Berman reflects on morality, truth and escapism in her works, each of which speak to personal hopes and dreams.

She uses abstraction as a response to contemporary political and cultural issues, using a diverse range of formal relationships. Her works feature allegories that reflect on social and ideological frictions through music, poetry, dance or literature, which suggest alternative possibilities for human life. She acknowledges her Anglo Indian heritage in her work, incorporating mixed cultural references that connect with her hybrid background. An indirect product of the British Empire, her family fled to the United Kingdom in the mid-twentieth century and hid their cultural roots. She finds a sense of place and harmony in her art, where she has often felt a sense of cultural ‘no man’s land’ in life. 

Berman explores the intrinsic values of her materials whilst infusing her work with personal language and signature palettes. Her variously delicate and strong organic coloured shapes and marks are infused with hidden symbolic references. The non-objective also interests her, as she translates sound into colour and illusionistic forces into lines. She paints “inside out”, with some forms dissolving into faint traces and others reappearing. White paint often covers a multitude of layers underneath, offering viewers glimpses of the painting’s hidden truth. The initial marks made on the canvas are excavated through sanding and other removal techniques.

In her poetic paintings, loud fluorescent pink or orange flicks contrast with soft, quiet tones. The colours convey a contrasting sense of rhythmic order or disorder, adding to the energy of the work. The marks could be seen as akin to genetic coding or the human perception of nature and our own ecological consciousness. They could also be compared to the pages of a journal or inner landscapes. Berman compares her rustic marks with the psychological marks that are gathered through life. Marks of pure expression are contrasted with geometric forms, hinting at the complexity of different people’s experiences and cultures. Bringing these differences together highlights the importance of collaboration within society, and convey the aesthetic value found in life. 


Melanie Berman: Biography 

Melanie Berman (b. Surrey, UK) lives and works in East Sussex. She graduated from the University for the Creative Arts with a BA in Painting (2008), and from Berkshire College of Art (1980) with a BA in Fashion Design. She has exhibited widely and been awarded various commissions including SMC Design, London. Most recently she exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy (2020, 2021, 2022) and the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy, London (2019, 2021, 2022). Her work also featured in the Royal Academy Calendar 2021. She exhibited at Wells Art Contemporary Exhibition in 2021, and was shortlisted for the Beep Painting Prize in 2022 and the Bankley Open Exhibition in 2022. Barclays Bank residency 2021-22