With her oil paintings, Berenice Michelow achieves the difficult task of keeping a cultural bond alive from halfway across the world. Though she emigrated to the United States years ago, Michelow continues to depict current social and political issues from her native South Africa. Her images tackle these big ideas from a personal perspective. She paints normal people as their everyday lives are affected by the current climate. This can mean capturing even the smallest moments with her deft brush. Apart from painting about South Africa, she is also inspired by certain political and social situations in the United States.
Michelow employs a mix of symbolism and realism. Sometimes she suspends her figures in blurred landscapes, as if their situations are literally dissolving around them. Sometimes she depicts purely imaginary scenes, such as a single flag standing in an endless field of grass. She is not afraid to treat her painted images like collages, lopping off body parts or decontextualizing the human figure. For Michelow, everything from bright colors to atomized textures contains significance.
Michelow was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and currently lives in Massachusetts, where she maintains an art studio. She has exhibited in several countries in Europe. She was also selected to represent South Africa at the IV International Biennial Valparaiso, Chile.