Amy Bernays, 30, is a prolific painter and documenter of the natural world, from the vast landscapes of California, to a picturesque strip of English coastline, to a seedy /steamy strip joint in east London. Since graduating from Central St Martins College in 2001 (BA Hons in Fine Art), she has steadily built her reputation, with a solo show last year at The Arclight, Los Angeles and this year at Art Amatoria, Edinburgh. She was included in the prestigious ‘Art for Youth’ at the Mall Galleries, London, last year, and her work is now owned by a number private collectors.
She cites Degas, Kate Marshall and Jack Vettriano as her main influences. She describes her landscapes as “An idealization…Sometimes I want to crawl into the landscapes that I create, build a house there or make a sand castle. I see a perfect future, an ideal man, a woman I would like to be, the land I want to return home to."
The power of Bernay’s painting is the result of her keen observation of the natural world. She currently works as an animal trainer, painter and writer in Los Angeles and is often having adventures on horseback: “I headed on horseback toward the top of the pink hilltops. They look like teeth taking a bite out of the sky… I saw a butterfly and wanted it. So I got off my sweaty horse, and stepped onto the dirt deer trail at the base of the rock front. It was far from everyone and the air was thick with evening light, haze from the wild sage, and midges, glowing spider’s webs…”
Her black and white prints and drawings of working girls in an east end strip club (see ‘Maria’, ‘The Conversation’ and ‘Waiting’) demonstrate a different style, which captures the fragile glamour and seductive decadence of the scene. She describes it as “A bit like modern history painting but instead of a great noble war it’s the antics of Paris Hilton and the pony!”"