Bram Bogart ‘Monochrome’ @ Bernard Jacobson Gallery

Bernard Jacobson Gallery showcases an exhibition that covers six decades of Bram Bogart’s intriguing career. The exhibition focuses on a recurring theme in Bogart’s work, the monochrome painting. After an early experimental period with cubism and figuration, the 1950s saw Bogart working in thick impasto. During this period, he was working on toned paintings and by 1955 he had produced a final version of a monochrome painting. This was a highly textured surface in white, an approach that can be likened to the white reliefs of Ben Nicholson or Robert Ryman’s minimalist canvases.

Lina-Abelina is a 2.5 metre high monochrome painting of blue white created in 1960. By now the texture has been reduced and the painting appears as a snowy landscape as seen from the air. The ‘heavy’ brush marks and drips bring to mind abstract expressionist examples, complimented with the use of single colour. Bogart produced monochrome paintings throughout the ‘60s, with more minimal and highly structured paintings such as Horizontaalwit (1968). By the ‘70s his paintings became thicker sculptural reliefs and were made on specially constructed wooden support frames. Amongst his numerous exhibitions this period is the representation of Belgium in the 1971 Venice Biennale.

The artist developed his unique style even further, in fascinating works such as Mystère (1994), Rouge-Rouge (2007) or March (2002) with their cement-like abstraction. Vendredisoir (1999), a pure black painting, weighs in at a full 300 kilos and projects 30 centimeters from the wall, while Hommage à Turner (1996), a large flesh tone painting demonstrates Bogart’s keen interest in colour.

Bram Bogart pioneering abstract forms combined with thick, gestural application of paint presents us with works that are seen as sculptural entities than traditional paintings. Each work stands out with its own character and powerful appearance. As the artist turns 90, this exhibition is a clear paradigm of Bogart’s innovative spirit throughout the decades and a very good -nicely presented- study demonstrating -perhaps not to everyone’s taste- the principles of abstract art and beyond.
|Kostas Prapoglou