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© Whitford Fine Art 2017

Georges Bernède

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Whitford Fine Art, 2011. £5.00

Born in 1926, Georges Bernède started painting in 1942. Whilst the German occupation of Paris had forced many artists to flee the French capital, Bernède's hometown of Monségur, near Bordeaux, was situated in the so-called Zone Libre, where life continued relatively uninterrupted. Under the influence of the established painter Mildred Bendall (1891-1977), who had sought refuge in Monségur, Bernède began as a figurative expressionist. Drawing on Bendall's training with Henri Matisse, Bernède used strong colour as building blocks, abandoning black tracing for shadows. These canvases were exhibited at the yearly exhibitions of the 'Artistes Indépendants de Bordeaux', the Group 'Sève' and the Group 'Le Regard' during the 1940s and 1950s.

The post-war years heralded exciting and innovative styles of Abstraction on both sides of the Atlantic. New York's Abstract Expressionism and Action Painting echoed in its European counterpart known as 'Art Informel', with its sub-variants of Lyrical Abstraction and Tachism. Generally these styles involved paint spontaneously dribbled, splashed or smeared onto the canvas, rather than being carefully applied. The resulting work usually emphasised the physical act or 'geste' of painting itself as an essential aspect of the finished work.

Bernède first turned to Lyrical Abstraction during the early 1960s. Yet, in his continuous search to express the essence of life, to establish an analogy to musical rhythm and to touch the viewer deep into the subconscious mind, Bernède gradually grew to gestural painting, partnered with a black and white palette. Whilst being deceptively subtle, these paintings have a dynamic, spontaneous and dramatic impact through the energetic application of the paint. Bernède's paintings are easily accessible for they evoke the collective sense of an archetypal visual language, and aid a civilisation's understanding of the world through heightened self-consciousness and awareness, a concept adopted by the Action painters from Freud and Jung.

Although his work bears obvious similarities to that of Franz Kline, Bernède was never an imitator, for with Matisse as a starting point, his style evolved instinctively through disciplined research and progress, as his artistic development over the years testifies.
Bernède continues to reside and paint in Monségur, France.

An Jo Fermon, September 2011