Ernst began this painting by scraping pigment across the surface with a toothed plasterer’s comb, creating a composition filled with striated patterns. He then applied darker shades of green, blue, and red to this lighter, textured layer. Finally, he added more paint to some areas while removing pigment in others, creating abstract forms evoking birds, butterflies, and trees. The complex structure of Birds above the Forest combines grattage, or scraping, with other nearly indecipherable processes characteristic of Ernst’s experimental approach to painting. Birds and forests feature prominently within Ernst’s personal mythology.
Gallery label from Max Ernst: Beyond Painting, September 23, 2017-January 1, 2018.