Georges Bernède is one of the best-kept secrets in the international art world. He was born in Montségur, near Bordeaux, in 1926, and before becoming a painter he was apprenticed in his father’s wood-working and joinery business. Then, in the war years, and with the inspiring tuition of Mildred Bendall (1891-1977), an Anglo-French artist of Fauvist colour and vigour who had taken refuge in Montségur, he began to paint, developing a figurative expressionist style of his own. Learning swiftly, he moved towards abstraction, and since then he has gone on to refine and distil an intensely painterly language of great personal freedom and distinction.
Whitford Fine Art represents the estate of Mildred Bendall, and it is through her connection with Bernède that his work is now being offered to the British public. Bendall began to encourage Bernède in 1942, and within a few years he was publicly exhibiting work in a post-cubist idiom, using colour both structurally and emotionally. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s he showed in the yearly exhibitions of Artistes Indepéndants de Bordeaux, Groupe Sève and Groupe Le Regard.
In the late 1960s he moved into a period of colourful abstraction which lasted until 1984, when he began to experiment with the almost monochrome style which has become his trademark. Inspired by oriental calligraphy as much as the example of the great American Abstract Expressionists, Bernède paints gesturally, mostly in black on a white ground. But he also uses edges of colour (such as blue or brown) to emphasize and enhance his forms, like grace notes or improvisations on the main design. Improvisation is an apt term, for Bernède’s mature work has much in common with music - in its pursuit of rhythm, form and flow.
Whitford Fine Art offers collectors an unparalleled chance to discover an artist of the French school who has yet to be widely recognized. Although Bernède has made a good living from selling his work for more than half a century, he has only ever exhibited in the Bordeaux area. Thus his reputation, though healthy, is inevitably localized, and the demand for his work has been such that he has not needed to go farther afield for sales. Now, in a period when French modern masters are beginning to be seriously reassessed (see the recent spate of exhibitions devoted to the nonagenarian Pierre Soulages), Georges Bernède emerges fresh on the international market at highly competitive prices.
Date Information: 12th September - 7th October 2011
Monday to Friday
10am - 6pm
Location Information: Whitford Fine Art
6 Duke Street St. James's
London SW1Y 6BN