British artist Sax Berlin devoted his life to absorbing the culture of art and architecture in Europe, Asia, and North America. Experimenting in media and visual styles, he established a recognizable visual language showing his impressive talent and artistic prowess. Exploring antique and modern painting techniques as a self-taught artist, he created an eclectic body of work in which eight distinct stylistic phases emerge. His boldness to change styles highlights his ability to do so, a characteristic that got him compared to Picasso.  “It’s a great honour to be compared to Picasso; after all, he is my spiritual father and teaches me in my dreams,” the artist said, confirming the influence of the greatest modernist. His works astonish and captivate collectors and contemporaries, earning him the nickname – “The Master”.

Travels of Sax Berlin

Born in Manchester in 1953, Sax Berlin set out on an artistic journey in 1972 at the age of eighteen. He wanted to study classical art and took a train to Athens, Greece to go directly to the source. Soaking up the culture and aesthetics of the antiquity, the young artist continued his travels to explore architecture and mosaic in Marrakech, Morocco. The following year he visited India to get acquainted with the indigenous art and the more refined sculpture, architecture, and miniature of the Mogul courts. In 1974 he visited Kathmandu in Nepal for the first time where he discovered Tibetan art and developed a great love for Newari people. Returning to Europe in 1975, he began exploring the technique of ink and paper, inspired by Durer. From his early Renaissance studies, Berlin discovered Old Jerusalem, a great inspiration in both the spiritual and artistic sense. His travels take him back to India, through Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey, only to emigrate to the USA in 1978. With the support of his wife, Sax Berlin wanted to create art on the street.

The Manhattan Period

The Manhattan phase in the work of Sax Berlin is filled with experiential pieces created on the streets of New York. Since 1978, for eight years he was sketching on the street and in elevators and then painting in his Astoria, Queens studio while working as a bicycle courier to make ends meet. He was a contemporary of Andy Warhol and Basquiat. Keith Haring was his friend and supporter. The style developed in the New York streets is very particular, linear and rhythmic, depicting the pulse of the great city. All the New York pieces were ink on paper, and none of them were exhibited before since Berlin thought he needed to master oil to start showing his work.

His nickname, “The Master” came from his masterful command of different techniques, from ink, oil, and acrylic paint, to gold and silver leaf.

Inspired by Picasso, Inspirited by Buddha

Feeling that the Manhattan period is coming to an end, Sax Berlin had a vision of Picasso in his dream, where the modern master showed him how to be fully immersed in painting. After studying Picasso’s work, he invented a new technique he calls “skimming” using a palette knife to slowly build the overlapping colourful layers up. This artistic discovery motivated the creation of two major bodies of work the artist calls “The Fools of God” and “High Classical Period’.

The early 90s awakened Berlin’s fascination with Tibetan art. He became obsessed with painting Buddhist icons by mixing the traditional Tibetan canon of proportions with modern techniques and contemporary style. Berlin continued to cultivate these two styles concurrently for years.

Return to a Cornish Studio

Returning from New York with his wife, Sax Berlin found an art studio in Lamorna Valley. The old, abandoned space once belonged to Samuel Lamorna Birch, who converted it from stables in the fifties. His daughter, Elisabeth Lamorna Kerr was 80 at the time and rented the space to Berlin for a symbolic amount of £5 a week. He fixed the studio up and worked there for seven years. Birch studio had been the haunt of notable people that centered around Lamorna. Augustus John, Laura and Frank Knight, Dylan Thomas and members of the Bloomsbury group were all frequent visitors.

Richard Veal of White Court Art gallery first came in contact with Sax Berlin when he bought a piece in an auction in 2009. The artist did not want to sell, but this purchase started the collaboration.

Sax Berlin’s Contemporary Practice

Since 2012, Sax Berlin has been working in his studio in Cornwall. He traveled to Nepal on several occasions to study the methodology of Buddhist art and currently paints in a studio in Spain. His latest visual direction leans toward neo-expressionism he calls his “Sharp Edge 21st Century New York Style”. In these works, he revisits the 1980s when he lived in New York, making a full circle by reinventing his original style.

Over the decades, Sax Berlin cultivated a unique eclectic contemporary voice represented in an extensive body of work and various techniques. A perfectionist and a virtuoso, he created pieces of museum quality that offer a combination of beautiful artwork and fine investment opportunity.

In 2012, Sax Berlin joined White Court Art gallery. We are privileged to represent and sell the works of this extraordinary artist.


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