Hommage aan van Gogh, eenzaam café [Hommage to van Gogh: Lonely Café]
Painting, 320 x 203 cm.
Materials: acrylic, canvas
Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. BK7251).
Fred Bervoets is an important Antwerp painter. He knows the language of painting inside out: not just his own personal language, but also that of old and modern masters. This knowledge is evident in his technique, and perhaps even more in his choice of motifs, such as this reference to the gas-lit night café in Arles by Van Gogh. Never restricted by any feelings of art-historical shame, Bervoets borrows freely also from other paintings. He makes his own ‘free variations’ on themes from Rubens, Van Gogh and Ensor.
In the same way he also revisits and reworks his own earlier work. These paintings also illustrate Bervoets’s constant struggle with his own academic education. He calls himself a ‘classical’ painter who feels obliged to ‘violate the classical in a plastic way’. Hommage aan van Gogh is part of the ‘White Series’ from the early 1990s. These are starkly reduced images that form an obvious contrast with the earlier works, which were characterised by an overload of colour and motifs. In the ‘White Series’ the almost calligraphic drawing becomes more prominent than Bervoets’s usual expressive colorism.
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