Bram Bogart (1921-2012)
Bram Bogart was born in Delft, the Netherlands, in 1921 and died in Kortenbos, Belgium, in 2012.
The son of a blacksmith, he studied to become a house painter. At first he painted facades and advertising panels.
From this formative period, he retained a compact conception of the use of colour.
In 1939, Bogart enrolled at the Fine Arts School in The Hague. He painted abstract pictures inspired by cubism.
After the Second World War, he moved to the South of France and then to Paris in the 1950s. It was there that he created his first impasti (from the Italian word for "impasto"), using a typical technique: the application of a paste composed of pigments mixed in plaster on a thick jute canvas. Mixing oil and water paint, Bogart created works close to tâchisme (Gris et bleu, 1954).
At the same time as Yves Klein, he produced his first monochromes (Absolution, 1959).
He dried his blocks of paint in the open air on the roof of his studio on rue Santeuil.
From the outset, Bogart refused to adhere to any particular movement. However, his work is linked to several currents of post-war informal art (expressionism, matierism).
He was also close to the CoBrA group (1948) and the Zero group (1957).
At the end of the 1950s, the artist organised his first solo show at the Creuze gallery (Paris).
His canvases were already becoming thicker, the painting itself became a wall-support, a wall-subject.
The pictorial mass is the basis of a reflection confronting matter and representation.
The materiality of the three-dimensional support gives the painting a sculptural force, beyond the oppositions heard.
In 1961, with his future wife Leni, he settled permanently in Belgium and in 1969 became a Belgian citizen. He then began to work in three dimensions, using a mixture of mortar, siccative, chalk powder, varnish and pigments, applied to large and heavy wooden structures. The jute cracks under the oil, and the artist has to develop a system of reinforced panels to support compositions that sometimes weigh hundreds of kilos.
The paint is spread with a spatula and trowel.
Gradually, Bogart's palette was enriched with bright colours ranging from blue (Roodinblauw, 1967) to bright yellow (Rye Summer, 1963), in compositions sometimes reminiscent of Nicolas de Staël.
Elsewhere in the world, other artists such as Ron Gorchov in the United States and Takesada Matsutani in Japan were dealing with pictorial empowerment.
Despite appearances, the material is not the central element in Bogart's work.
"It is the writing and the construction of the painting that is essential," says the artist.
"I try never to make the same sign or the same strip twice. That is why the material, if it is thick, when I plant my signs more or less deeply, allows me great variations.
Bogart was now recognised and represented Belgium at the Venice Biennale in 1971.
His concepts come in all shapes and sizes, from small frames to large gouaches in coloured masses.
He also continued his monochrome research (White plane white, 1974).
Through a process of 'construction' with paint, he fused gesture with material, producing powerfully physical paintings with a sculptural and three-dimensional presence.
Bram Bogart died in 2012 at the age of 91.
He is currently represented by White Cube Gallery (London, Hong Kong, New York, Paris, Palm Beach)
Throughout his career he exhibited extensively in Europe, including at the Cobra Museum of Modern Art, Amstelveen (2012), Kunsthalle, Recklinghausen (2005), PMMK, Museum of Modern Art, Ostend (1995), Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (1964) and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (1959). In 1970 he represented Belgium at the 35th Venice Biennale. Bogart's work can be found in many museums and public collections, including Tate, London; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Mudam, Luxembourg; Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar, The Netherlands; National Gallery of Victoria, Australia; S.M.A.K, Ghent; and the Yuan Art Museum, Beijing.
156 x 164 cm