ABOUT CIEL BERGMAN
Ciel Bergman, a.k.a Cheryl Bowers, is a well-known and accomplished Californian painter of large and sensuous canvases. She was born 1938 in Berkeley, California, the daughter of a couple deeply committed to the arts. First trained as a nurse, she lived in Europe before returning to San Francisco Art Institute in 1973 where she completed her MFA. She continued to paint and served as a full professor of art at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has recently (1994) retired to a new home in Northern New Mexico, west of Abiquiu.
Her work is included in the collections of the National Gallery, Washington D.C., the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Oakland Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, the Newport Harbor Art Museum, and the San Diego Museum of Art.
Exhibitions (from 1968-1972)
"Mendocino Windows", Gallery West, Mendocino, California, 1968
Santa Rosa School of Nursing, R.N., psychiatry, 1956-59
Personal statements of Ciel Bergman
"Paint is liquid matter and therefore the limitation on its use is the
human imagination, having experimented freely in my earlier years, I find
I am fundamentally interested in what paint, wielded as its has been for
centuries, can still communicate. I utilize traditional materials and techniques:
oil paint, linseed oil, wax, liquin, turpentine and various additives: underpainting,
building and glazing. I am deeply moved by the color of the world, my attention
is constantly riveted by the wonder of , for instance, red paint, when
it remains only the physical stuff on a surface or mysteriously shifts,
transforms into meaning, the instant the brain registers recognition, 'ah,
a rose petal' or a bloodstain of tissue. Where is the edge ?
"Philosophically and politically, it is my opinion that one of the major tasks of the arts in the 21st Century is to relink culture and nature. Intellectually I reject Puritanism, dogmas of any description, hegemonies and systems, which suppress independent thought or dictate, mass response and mass behavior. Intuitively, I fell too much has been discussed and written about painting in this century. There are those of us who need to paint and those of us who need to see paint is in me, a life-force; a metabolic result of my being. It is an essential vent for the intensity of the awe (beauty) and terror (horror) of being alive. It is also an ordering process whereby I might gift back to others, if I am true, a shared experience of the ecstasy of seeing. What drives my vision seems to be the need to locate a particular orientation, a 'genetically felt' space in which a simultaneous multiplicity of desperate realities coexist. And if I write that I am in search of an unknown - the deep feminine - I hope I will not be misunderstood. I feel my work may grow closer to silence and become more contemplative as I further mature."
"Cynicism, irony, sarcasm and related postures hold no interest for me. Rather, I am drawn to work which engages compassion, suggests the fragility of relationships in all forms, the organic, the simple and elegant, the raw and sensuous, the subtle and certainly the ineffable."
What others say about Ciel Bergman
".. the dark, seductive, moody, and potentially violent flowers of Ciel
Bergman reveals areas of the female psyche that I've heard about but have
never before experienced. Her landscapes, ..., with or without flowers,
are memorable for their fluid pastel colors and strong composition....
Here is an artist on a spiritual journey, which we're invited to join."
"[Ciel Bergman] Cheryl Bowers has clearly taken her place with such
established California painters as William Wiley, Fred Marin, Jay de Feo,
Allan, Brown, Smith, Hudson."
"These are paintings of hope, celebrating the world's beauty while confronting
its darkness. There are wounds here, laid bare so that they might be healed,
but there is also peace, resolution ... Flowers, especially the iris, have
been growing in Bergman's garden of imagery for some time now. But never
have they been painted with such force, positioned so unashamedly and given
such prominence. Bergman's irises flirt with botanical accuracy, a tendency
she quickly undermines with a gestural brush stroke here, an absent detail
there.... By bathing us in the light of these beautiful canvases, Bergman
assures that forgetfulness, at least, will be eliminated from our long
list of excuses if and when nature is finally and irreversibly compromised.
The work is a gentle but firm warning, turning our black and white world
on its ear. It's a simple decision, really: life or death."
"Ciel Bergman makes unabashedly beautiful paintings. Over the last decade,
Bergman (formerly Cheryl Bowers) has come to be known on the West Coast
as a painter's painter, an artist who relished the medium, its lushness,
liquid color, and luminescences. Her penchant for coming up with surprising
spatial appositions, simultaneous views not linked in reality but in the
mind, allows for shifting perceptions within one painting. Yet it is the
gestalt of this that counts.
Destruction and discovery, two major themes that Bergman illustrates with her flowers, letting us know that the earth cannot pillaged without also destroying us.
Artwork listed for sale at galleries
Human Kind Cannot Bear Very Much Reality, 8' x 6' painting, value $18,000
Flowers of Ciel Bergman:
Flowers in red - higher resolution picture