I see these images as engravings of dreams. Pixelated and disintegrating dreams, they morph one into the other and then dissipate, dot by dot, until awakening. The pieces in front of us capture the last most vivid vision. In fact, this brings me to the notion that one possible way to recall dreams forgotten right after the awakening moment could be by dots — a simple and elegant solution! The lack of lines deprives the viewer of a continuous visual reference, hampering focus; as a result the paintings appear to be covered by a gauze (made of the innumerable microscopic white dots), which further enhances the dreamlike quality.
This black and white, stripped version of pointillism is interesting from a purely technical point of view. The style of painting intended to mix colors inside the beholder’s mind rather than on the painted surface, endures the transformation: the portraits in Berl’s artwork display a heightened psychology, the darkest areas being eyes and mouths — the most expressive facial features. The artist makes a point (pun intended) that this painting technique is best suitable for portraiture and, I find it difficult to imagine still life, landscape or other genres benefiting similarly from such experimentation. But “never say never,” they say.
Another notable trait is the unsteadiness of the images. The white here does not originate from the sun but rather from some supernatural source — I’m thinking in the direction of imagination, unless you believe in ghosts. Even the girl, whose arm is visibly placed on a hard surface, probably a table, appears to hover, threatening to near the viewer, out of the frame, or, correspondingly, withdraw into the two dimensional world in a zoom out effect. Perhaps it is not coincidental that some of Ascender’s pointillist pictures feature Indians posing and dancing (in a way, the epitome of unsteadiness) in traditional wear — possibly exorcizing.
Yet still, in a somewhat contradictory turn, the simplicity of black and white provides a degree of robustness to the paintings as a whole. To sum up, in her pointillist works the artist appeals and stimulates the viewers’ fancy as effectively as she does in her collages and “scatterlings (c).” Conceptually, her work contains many parallels to a wonderful film I watched last year, “Pan’s Labyrinth:” there is the reality, often harsh, and the magic, sweet and comforting, but occasionally horrifying. Similarly to that movie, Ascender eschews easy “happy endings” and challenges us with aesthetically complex and inspiring works of art that fulfill on the visual, psychological and imaginative levels.