Tony Berkman

Artist’s Statement


I increasingly use a “reducting” process in making my paintings: that is to say I apply a number of different coloured layers to the canvas and then work rapidly to take away parts of the surface, usually by scraping away the topmost and therefore less set or dried layers so that a varying amount of the different under-laying remaining coats are left visible. It is essential to work quickly as the acrylic dries fast but at the same time it is important to allow a certain amount of drying or setting to take place. This is for me the most exciting element as it is almost impossible to exactly predict the timescales by which these layers will dry and as I work up or down or along the canvas “reducting” the layers there is an element of change as different areas dry at different rates. This is also influenced by varying factors such as the humidity and temperature of the surrounding environment, the thickness and density of the paint and the timing of each layer’s application. In many respects each painting serves as research for those that follow.

My style has been described as “Urban Humanist” ; my subject matter has continuing links to my interest in city life and the mystery of what goes on behind closed doors and windows. I resist the depiction of human figures in my painting, choosing to emphasise a sense of the unknown, a factor enhanced by my emphasis on abstraction. I also enjoy working with oils in pursuit of similar subject matter although the techniques used are quite different.

I work on the city theme in tandem with the expression of my ideas through the use of colour, movement and light.


I have concentrated mainly on linocuts with my printmaking work, often also based on my fascination with cities and industrial buildings. I have developed a method of colour “tinting” by applying a first layer of single coloured ink followed by hand touching certain areas and then giving the whole area a final roll, so that many of my linoprints although of the same image, are unique in respect of the final completed print. This method ensures that each coloured print is unrepeatable, an aspect which I particularly value.