Bram Bogart

12 Jul — 10 Sep 2017 at Saatchi Gallery in London, United Kingdom

10 AUGUST 2017
Bram Bogart, Exhibition view. Courtesy of 	Saatchi Gallery
Bram Bogart, Exhibition view. Courtesy of Saatchi Gallery

Salon is delighted to announce its second exhibition, a presentation of works by the acclaimed Belgian painter Bram Bogart, staged in collaboration with Vigo Gallery, London.

While Bogart is an artist associated with bold, thickly physical colour, Witte de Witte is comprised of nine rare monochrome or near monochrome works executed between 1952 and 2006, which, taken as a group, illustrate the artist’s dramatic and unique contribution to the canon of modernist painting. Bogart, who died aged 90 in 2012, first worked towards an all white picture in a series of semi- representational paintings he completed in the South of France in the late 1940s. These works were a response to the light and dust of the Mediterranean, and also the chalkiness of local buildings. Originally trained as a house-painter, Bogart approximated the walls’ rough matte finish by mixing poster paint to his oils and letting the paint peel off to suggest exposure to the elements.

Beginning in the late 1950s and expanding in the opening years of the 1960s, Bogart developed a new resolution of gesture and material. He met Willem de Kooning, and his paintings acknowledged the all-over structure and expansive scale associated with American Abstract Expressionism. Like Jackson Pollock, after 1960, Bogart painted on the floor, using a mix of oil, siccative, powdered chalk, varnish, and raw pigment applied to heavy wooden supports to ‘build’ his works. When viewed upright, Bogart’s slab-like pictures hold themselves together in way that actively denies gravity.

One of the earliest works in the exhibition, Differentes (1954) demonstrates the ever- increasing weight of material, a tendency toward thicker impasto and a more aggressive facture that would become Bogart’s mature style. Later works, such as Witte de Witte (2002) or Sunday Mornings (2007), are not illuminated by an illusion generated within pictorial space, but by a real and ever-changing display of light and shadow playing out across their surface accretions. The show also includes Fête Javel and Zinc Jardin, both from 1960, and considered masterpieces by the artist.

By presenting work from the breadth of Bogart’s oeuvre, Witte de Witte allows the viewer to trace his artistic influences – from the asceticism and rigor of Piet Mondrian, to the atmospheric landscapes of Constant Permeke and exuberant brushstrokes of Van Gogh – as well as Bogart’s technical development and achievement over a more than fifty-year period.

Says Philippa Adams, Senior Director, Saatchi Gallery: ‘SALON is delighted to be staging for its second show an exhibition of rare works by Bram Bogart, and to be working with Vigo Gallery. We are particularly proud to be showing these nine works, which not only reveal his significance as a painter, but also reveal an aspect of his practice that many will be unfamiliar with.’

Witte de Witte follows the first edition of SALON, a presentation of paintings from the 1950s and 1960s by the Japanese artist Tsuyoshi Maekawa.

Its next exhibition, which will open in September 2017, is Calder on Paper: 1960-1976, with works by Alexander Calder to be staged in collaboration with Omer Tiroche Gallery.

Born Abraham van den Boogaart in Delft in 1921, Bram Bogart was a Dutch-born Belgium painter. Bogart moved to Belgium in the early 60s, taking citizenship in 1969. In 1971, he represented his adopted country at the Venice Biennale.

Like his contemporaries Jan Schoonhoven, Alberto Burri and Lucio Fontana, Bogart challenged and blurred traditional notions of painting and sculpture, building three dimensional paintings comprised of mostly natural ingredients including various oils, glue, varnish, pigment, siccative, powdered chalk, and water. His investigation into the sculptural possibilities of paint led him to use increasingly thick layers to create a nuanced textural surface, exploring balance and disorder, two- and three-dimensionality, colour and structure. He worked on a scale that was very rare in Europe during this period and, refusing to be pigeon-holed into any school or grouping, influenced many of his contemporaries and swapped works with Fontana, Schoonhoven and others.

Bogart exhibited widely across Europe from the 1940s onwards, at private galleries and museums. His first solo exhibition in the UK was held at Gimpel Fils Gallery, London, in 1958. Further solo exhibitions include: Musée Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands (1959 and 1984); Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium (1964 and 1973); Stedelijk Museum, Netherlands (1967); Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany (1972); Fondation Veranneman, Kruishoutem, Belgium (1985); PMMK Museum of Contemporary Art, Ostend, Belgium (touring) (1995); Fine Art Society, London (2006); Bernard Jacobsen, London (2007 and 2009); and Cobra Museum, Netherlands (2012). His works feature in the collections of many important private collections and museums, including Tate Modern, London, which acquired four works from Vigo Gallery in 2015.