Berriblue is a Polish / Irish artist & designer based in Porto, Portugal. She built her reputation in Dublin, where she was a successful street artist under her earlier pseudonym, JTB.
Prominent in her work are themes of mortality, sexuality, mental health and personal identity. Her pieces and series often incorporate a strong visual narrative, using artwork as a form of catharsis to explore problems and ideas.
Though well known for her street art, Berriblue is also a successful studio artist. She has had six solo shows to date, and her work is held in collections in Dublin, Paris, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Mozambique, and Los Angeles.
She trained as a printmaker and graphic designer. Her personal belief that artists should try everything, constantly learning and re-inventing, has allowed her to work figuratively and abstractly, in 2D and 3D, using performance and production, in the studio and on the street. By balancing dichotomies she can avoid getting stuck in one place and pursue true creative expression.
Berriblue is currently living and practicing in Porto, Portugal. She grew up in Gdansk, in northern Poland, and moved to Dublin with her mother at the age of 13. She had a troubled childhood, and themes of depression and rejection are often apparent in her work.
At 18 she attended the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, specialising in fine print, and at this time she started to proliferate her work on the street. Not finding any particular allure in street art culture per se, she thought of it as a way to avoid curatorial filters and set her work in a responsive, dynamic, and above all living environment. She quickly earned a reputation on the Dublin art scene for her unique illustrative style and the iconographic symbolism in her work. She took part in a number of group exhibitions and her first two solo shows 'JTB' and 'An Exhibition of Prints and Drawings' were met with some critical acclaim. Her work appeared in anthologies of Irish street art and she received many commissions during this time.
Unfortunately, she was experiencing a lot of difficulty in her personal life and struggled with mental health issues. In 2014 she held her third solo show, 'The Studio,' a public performance in Temple Bar's Filmbase venue. This show challenged the stigma surrounding mental health and depression and encouraged members of the public to come forward with stories of their experiences. Some of the work produced is now held in a private collection in Dublin. Her move away from figurative, illustrative pieces in this exhibition marked a changing point, maturing and freeing her approach to producing work.
Over the following two years she undertook a period of personal development, married, and traveled Europe with her husband, looking for a place to live and work. In 2016 she arrived in Porto and immediately arrived on the street art scene. She began producing work at a ferocious rate and launched a line of luxury silk scarves.
Very quickly after arriving in Porto in 2016, BerriBlue's work became prominent on the Porto street art scene. Her distinctive style is recognised and lauded by locals and tourists alike, and several of her pieces have remained in place for years at a time, becoming local landmarks and featuring heavily in several Porto street art tours.
For many of Porto's Street Art aficionados, BerriBlue represents a new wave of artists who deal with deeper themes and ideas than most artists coming from a graffiti background. Her expression of more personal fears, thoughts, and desires had a huge impact on the local Street Art Scene, opening doors for more artists who, for the last 5 years, have been exploring more philosophical thoughts on the walls of the city. At the same time, her use of large scale paste-ups have helped bring this technique to the fore, as one of the most important ones in the city, spawning more creators using paste-ups.
The city's beautiful architecture and bohemian atmosphere have been a strong influence in her work, notably in her recent adoption of ceramic murals. Most of her street work is tied directly to the spaces it's located in, being created for specific locations in the city, adapting shapes, compositions, expressions, and even colours to complement the environment into which they are placed. In 2019, she began working on azulejo street art and studio pieces, murals glazed onto on ceramic tiles – a traditional Portuguese technique, which is very common in her adopted home city.
In January 2018 BerriBlue took part in a group show with prominent street artists Hazul and Godmess, and later that year held her first solo show in Portugal, Tension. In 2019 and 2020, Berri held two further solo shows in Porto, and exhibited with Gallerie Sonia Monti, in Paris' "Golden Triangle." In 2021, she has been invited to exhibit at the XIII Florence Biennale.
Her iconic aesthetic is now a common sight on the streets of downtown Porto and her pieces continue to sell to private buyers and collectors and has been featured in local and national media in Portugal, and internationally.
Chief theme's in BerriBlue's work are mental health, mortality, and sexuality. The imagery often relates to the physicality of her psychological experience; Dreams, traumas, fears, anxiety, and love expressed as a physical manifestation in the body. She is particularly interested in the visceral carnality of death, sex, trauma, and love as a natural part of the human experience.
This is also expressed in her material choices. Eschewing cleaner, more perfect forms, her studio work is often realised on simple plywood and packing paper, the inevitable faults and deterioration adding to the ephemeral, real, living nature of each piece.
Her street art works are in a sense born to die, embracing the fleeting nature of the medium. Her murals are site-specific, wrapping themselves into the architecture of the public space. There is an almost sculptural aspect to the importance of the socio-spatial context of each piece.