This review explains it well.
From the commercial Appeal. Sunday, August 17, 1975 by Guy Northrop
The term Berlin Wall connotes something drab and ominous. But the interior walls painted in splashing color by artist Valerie Berlin are a joy to behold.
Where you behold them is the lobby of the First National Bank at Madison and Third.
The dozen Berlin paintings on view there show an outspoken talent that is frivolous, humorous and cheerful, but also controlled, disciplined and traditional.
Valerie Berlin is not particularly modern for 1975. In fact, she is more akin to the Fauves, who were modern from about 1905 up to World War I.
You cannot look at Berlin’s Paintings without thinking of the many Riviera interiors of Henri Matisse, flat, full of light and devised from decorative forms of wallpaper, plants, chairs and tables, windows and doors, mirrors and pictures…all of the most outrageous, pure color.
Nor can you keep from thinking of Van Gogh’s bedroom paintings… the yellow room, the yellow bed that told us as much about the artist as a self-portrait and maybe more.
Berlin’s understanding of the elements ofa picture is expressed about as well as anywhere in her painting “Tyrone.”
Sketch of Tyrone is a lazy sort of spotted dog, sprawled on a crazy quilt an a most distorted bed within a room that seems to wobble.
The perspective is pure fantasy. It is naive in a way that indicates tongue and cheek. It is sophisticated in it’s manipulation of the eye through the picture, and in the pleasure it gives the mind that perceives what the painter is about.
Berlin’s object is simply to make us see beauty in commonplace rooms. She does not pretty them up, or give them an unnatural sense of order. We see them in frank and blemished form, helped by a little exaggeration.
The impressive thing about Valerie Berlin’s paintings is their solidity. She is never vague. There are distortions, but no mistakes. Architecturally every painting is a space with depth and openness. She creates illusion in a way that would have confused Mantegna, and yet she is doing the same as all those Renaissance artists who scattered columns and arches about their paintings.
Her animals lend life to interiors that are already lively. and the expression of human presence appears in paintings of another Memphis painter, Mary Sims.
Without being pretentious, these pictures by Berlin are willing to please….if you speak in the artist’s vernacular.