Scrolling through Ian Berry’s Instagram, you might mistake his work for blue-toned photographs or paintings. But if you look closer, you’ll see that his work is actually constructed of layers and layers of denim. Situated at a crossroads between textile art and fashion, his work pays homage to the urban lifestyle. Crafted out of everyday material (who of us doesn’t own a pair of jeans?), his work resonates with people from all corners of the world.
“I love the material because everyone can wear it, and most do,” Berry observed once in an interview. “I’m edging closer to being a “denim head” and appreciating the material and jeans like they do, but that is not connected to my art that much. It is an art, and certainly a craft on its own and one that I have totally grown to respect. But in general, the beauty about jeans is that you don’t need to be an expert to feel comfortable wearing it and enjoy the experience.”
It’s this sense of immediacy that makes Berry’s work all the more approachable. With a number of sell-out solo shows, Berry has also shown his work across Europe and the States. Currently showing at the Levi Strauss Museum in Germany, he has also unveiled a permanent installation in San Francisco.
“My work isn’t all about it being denim,” insists Berry, “and while it often looks at community, I also set myself the challenge of using denim in a way that it no longer looks like denim, it becomes photorealistic.”
In terms of subject matter, his art often features melancholic urban scenes, depicting a lonely or less glamorous side of city living that’s washed out in different shades of blue. “I do what painters usually do, play with the light and the dark,” explains Berry. “I have piles of denim in my studio: my friends’ jeans, jeans from charity shops, donations from denim brands and mills. My warehouse is organized by colors and it is growing bigger and bigger, so I can use a lot of shades.”
The end result is both dramatic and awe-inspiring. Take a look!