Fucking Death, 1985
With reference to his work, Bervoets himself uses the at first
sight paradoxical terms `traditional` and `Expressionist`.
However, these concepts do not function in his vocabulary as
the over-determinate style concepts we know from
art-historical jargon. They are more like vague and ironic
indicators that enable the artist to situate himself in
relation to traditional and contemporary painting.
Self Portrait in Living room, 1991
Self Portrait with Donkey, 1990
Există vreo tendinţă în
arta contemporană expusă la Armory? Ce fel de lucrări au fost expuse
În 2004 la Armory s-a expus
multă fotografie, de asemenea, faţă de anii precedenţi am observat că
a scăzut numărul instalaţiilor video. Numitorul comun? Din ce în ce
mai multe desene copilăreşti şi artă „moale”, frumos colorată, de o
veselie exagerată, foarte kitsch. De remarcat fotografiile ale lui
Wang Qingsong şi post-modernismul care (în fine!) a ajuns şi în China.
Sleeping Gipsy, 1991
Bervoets looks upon himself as pure-blooded `Expressionist`
who continually lives in interaction with his academic
baggage, which he necessary drags along with him as a very
heavy burden. He sees himself as a `traditional painter` who
is constantly forced `to violate the traditional in a plastic
Bervoets is an Expressionist because he primarily tells
stories, stories about his close surroundings. Often nothing
more than `faits divers` (trivial items), that obtain a great,
but alienating monumentality in their pictorial expression. On
the other hand, Bervoets is traditional, because `art is a
traditional event`. Being traditional to Bervoets means that
he does not per definition consider his most recent paintings
to be his best. As far as he is concerned, the definitive,
ultimate painting, does not exist. He does not rule out in
advance a return to earlier stages of his work. Bervoets` work
is time-related and originates instantaneously; this likewise
implies that-artistically-he may take issues with himself from
one day to the another.
The End Nevada, 1988
Bervoets` status as a traditional artist is also related to his
apparently stubborn, but conscious choice of a traditional medium.
Painting is possibly the most artistic medium, in any case is the most
artificial one. Today more than ever is based on traditional and
almost anachronistic conventions.
Painting in the age of audiovisual stimulations and computer
technology is far from obvious.
It also requires constant commitment on the part of the painter (and
The only legitimation lies in the painting itself. `Innocent` painting
is less possible today than ever. Bervoets also has understood that.
While contemporaries such as Panamarenko and Hugo Heyrman in the
mid-sixties commits themselves to performance and happenings, the
young Bervoets remained stubbornly believing in the technical and
rhetorical possibilities of traditional painting métier.
While Zero, Nouveau Realism and Conceptual art certainly did not pass
him by unnoticed, he devoted himself to pictorial research with what
was for many a touching but apparently authentic dedication.
In a period when `Expressionist` is a term of abuse, and `traditional
painters` are persona non grata, -Bervoets with some of his painting
colleagues centered around Antwerp Gallery “De Zwarte Panter”-takes a
marginal leap in the progressive Belgian art environment. Not even
twenty years later, it is precisely his work that appears contemporary
and constitutes the occasion for a special museum exhibition.
Bervoets` choice `in favor of painting` has, for that matter, never
been a rational choice.
For him, painting has everything to do with speed and directedness,
with action and movement. Gestural painting-`not with the wrist but
with the elbow`-is, as far as Bervoets is concerned, not only a manner
of expression, but is initially a way of living. Painting is a
necessity, and especially `painting is cosy`. But painting is also
difficult: according to Bervoets it becomes more difficult as he gets
better at it. Painting then becomes a risky enterprise, dangerous
acrobatics: it becomes `walking the tightrope, dressed in a tuxedo and
with far too big shoes`.
The painting derive their visual impact and energy from the field of
tension that exists from the Gesture and the Story. From the
historical short circuit between abstraction and figuration. From the
constant interaction between painting as action and painting as
narration; between action and reflection, drawing and painture,
texture and structure. Between the eternal Scylla and Charybda of the
modern painter: Form and Content.
Because of this, the paintings of Bervoets constantly balance between
unpredictability and purposiveness, between chaos and order.
Because in the works sometimes the one, then the other tips the
balance, the evolution of Bervoets oeuvre has not been characterized
by any homogeneity or continuity since 1960.
For thirty years his work has undergone a number of transformations
thematically as well as stylistically. Here the stylistic changes are
most conspicuous; they also form a chronological division in the
`series` that the painter himself uses to refer to his earlier works.
However, a new direction never comes as the result of a conscious
decision, but gradually appears when the formal or content issue has
reached its saturation point. In this sense, the various series can be
read as a pictorial autobiography of the painter, as a kaleidoscope
self-portrait in pictures of an artist who once defined himself as a
`comics painter`, as one of his paintings as a `solitary comics page`.
@ Johan Pas
Excerpt from Fred Bervoets catalogue, De Zwarte
Courtesy Adriaan Raemdonck, Johan Pas and Zwarte
In Belgium Fred Bervoets is represented by De Zwarte
Panter Gallery http://www.artsite.be/zwartepanter/
Welcome Home The Trap, 1991