“I am dedicated to delving into the often-uncanny alchemy that creates meaning in the semantic spaces between symbols. It is this process that gives shape to the psychological impulses that guide my aesthetic choices.” - Tom Berenz
Tom Berenz is an accomplished American painter and associate professor at the University of Wisconsin. Tom uses chaos as a metaphor to discuss personal, socio-political, environmental, and ideological ideas in his works. His paintings are as complex as they are beautiful, playing with space, perspective and pattern. In his work, Tom reminds us that at the heart of complexity lies a simple truth -- even in the throes of chaos there is always a discernible, perhaps even destined, order if you seek it.
The artist uses acrylic, oil, and spray paint to create colorful psychological landscapes that refer overtly to images drawn both from early twentieth-century cubism and from mid-century cartoons. This juxtaposition creates a space that allows both for participation in a longstanding conversation about each painting’s place in the increasingly less stratified world of contemporary culture and for the exploration of a variety of elements from the artist’s personal history. By conflating these two visual sources, the artist is blurring the distinction between commercial and fine art, and attempting to create a larger gestalt within which his particular take on the world he inhabits can find expression. The graphic flattening of once spatially rich cubist compositions that results from this pairing serves as a reminder of the way contemporary visual communication has been transformed by the ubiquity of screen-based image transfer.
Tom’s paintings have been exhibited nationally, and internationally and featured in multiple publications, most notably, New American Paintings and Huffington Post. Tom has received numerous awards and accolades, including, Mary Nohl Fellow 2017, Best in Show, Wisconsin Triennale at The Museum of Wisconsin Art in 2016, Best Painting Award NWC Biennale – National Weather Center, 2013, and MFA Joan Mitchell, University of Wisconsin – Madison, WI, 2012. His work is in many public collections at The Museum of Wisconsin Art, Northwestern Mutual, University of Oklahoma to name a few and his work can be seen in homes around the world. Berenz’ is a very active artist with exhibitions in South Africa, Korea, Los Angeles, Taiwan, Australia, and Denmark this year alone (2022).