Seeing a Mark Rothko exhibition in his youth, had a profound influence on Michael Biberstein. An artistic encounter that would change the course of his life. Michael Biberstein left Switzerland in the 1960s to study Art History in the United States with British critic David Sylvester at Swarthmore College in Philadelphia. The artist became interested in Early Christian art and the architecture of Roman churches as well as Baroque painting and, specifically, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Sacred spaces all over the world, which he tirelessly visited, became a major theme in his work, in spite of his militant agnosticism.
The ethereal landscapes of Michael Biberstein, fascinated by astrophysics, resemble vibrations in space and resonances in silence. They recall landscapes by Vernet, Friedrich, Turner, Monet, Cézanne and Rothko as well as reminiscences of Eastern landscape painting. The atmospheric space of the work is an architecture built to make visible a cosmology imprinted with eternity and infinity. The absence of contours can suggest form, the flux of colors changes constantly according to the light.
Without any doubt, his countless skies and meditative landscapes resulted in the urge to create a ceiling for the Santa Isabel Church (1742), in Lisbon, to which the artist dedicated four years of his life. Unfinished when the artist suddenly passed away in 2013, the decision to carry out the realisation of this major work was taken with the support of the gallery that presented an exhibition-fundraising in 2014 entitled “A Sky for Michael Biberstein” featuring the 1/8 scale-model of the Church. The gallery had previously shown his work in a group show entitled “La tentation de l’Orient” as well as a first solo show in 2009 entitled “Résonance du silence”. An important part of the budget for the realisation of Michael Biberstein’s ceiling for the Church was brought by sponsors solicited by the gallery.
In connexion with the unveiling of the Ceiling of Santa Isabel Church in Lisbonne painted by Michael Biberstein in 2016, the Foundation Árpád Szenes – Vieira da Silva, organises a presentation of the artist’s studies for the ceiling in collaboration with the gallery. This presentation also features works on paper and the model of Santa Isabel Church with Michael Biberstein’s painting, realized by Appleton and Domingos Arquitectos.
That same year, the gallery organizes a solo show of Michael Biberstein entitled “Paysage en apothéose” with a selection of original drawings, rarely presented or previously unseen, as they were discovered in his studio after he passed away, and publishes a catalogue dedicated to his works on paper with the collaboration of Nicholas Turner, curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum in preparation for the ûblication of the artist’s Catalogue Raisonné.