Ciel Bergman: Archives Uncovered: 'The Moons' (Article #3) / by Tasha Ostrander & Ben Lincoln

Ciel Bergman, Moon #3, oil on canvas, 36"x54" 1984

Ciel Bergman, Moon #3, oil on canvas, 36"x54" 1984

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On the heals of a successful Pop-up exhibition for Ciel Bergman last month, braveART returns to our archival uncovering of Bergman's work. 'The Moons' are a series Bergman created in the 1980s and '90s - and in this particular body, the Moon - it's luminescence - is a forefront, figurative element Bergman uses to remind us of the power and relevance of the feminine.

In her own words, Bergman writes:

As a very young painter I was transfixed, more, I was hynotized by the paintings of Albert Pinkham Ryder. Within The Lover’s Boat, Seacoast in Moonlight, and Death On A Pale Horse, he seemed obsessed by moonlight. How was this mysterious light rendered in pigment? In the very ancient world, the full moon was a symbol of the source of energy, of life and death; was thought to be The Goddess herself. Egyptian priests referred to the moon as The Mother of the Universe. The great Japanese print-maker, Yoshitoshi created a huge body of work beginning in 1885, One Hundred Aspects of The Moon, in as many exhaustive images.

The moon influences menstrual cycles, sanity, subtle behaviors and oceanic tides on our planet. Though science has stripped much of the poetry from the moon, we are still, the world-over, enchanted, most of us amazed, humanized, humbled when a lunar eclipse occurs. When a orange Harvest Moon rises twice the familiar size on an October evening. When a blue moon is the 13th or 14th moon of a year. Many references remain in film, literature, romantic songs and language: moon-struck, mooney, lunacy, moon-sick, once in a blue moon.

It may be evidence of my immaturity but I felt both awed and assaulted when men walked on the moon in 1969 leaving their footprints and debris on Her pristine virgin body. It stirred some very ancient spiritual female reverence to boil over as insult, when success was expressed as “one giant leap for mankind.” Why not HUMANKIND? Moons occur large and small in my work over the years but these entered in full-blown aura of affirmation. Of course, they honor the feminine. Technically, I remember working to learn how to make an emitting radiant glow. This challenge had driven painters for centuries and remains so today. A luminous, translucent light, an illusion of light, from opaque titanium and zinc white paint.                                                                                                                            

-Ciel Bergman