Purdy Hicks Gallery is pleased to announce the forthcoming exhibition of oil paintings and sketches by Belgian artist, Pierre Bergian.
Pierre Bergian paints empty rooms. Well, not completely empty. Sometimes there is a solitary piece of furniture, a ladder, a piano, a table, but these seem to do little more than add to the emptiness. ‘My paintings are a little similar to still lives,’ he says. ’Emptiness fascinates me.’ They are about light in space. ‘I never paint artificial light. I love sunshine coming into a room with a lot of shadow. I make a difference between morning and afternoon light or evening light. I also like the light of the winter sun, coming in very deeply. Moonlight is fascinating! Especially in old houses, when this light reflects on the walls, floor and ceiling. Light in a building can be so delicate.’
Bergian’s rooms are a composite of spaces which have attracted him. ‘Some of the painted interiors are quite realistic. Others are compilations of what I have seen – impressions of reality.’ It would be a mistake to read his rooms as literally realistic. Reality for Bergian is reality of atmosphere.
Behind the air of mystery in Bergian’s images lies a taste for old interiors and abandoned rooms, an interest in what he calls the archaeology of the interior. ‘When I was a child, I loved to discover abandoned old houses in Bruges, Lille and Ghent. They were mostly empty and rather dark, of course, without artificial light. Medieval buildings are very mysterious. But 20th Century buildings are amazingly interesting too. ‘ He does not think he is alone in this taste: ‘I am persuaded that we are unconsciously very fascinated by interiors of buildings because these are the places in which we spend the largest part of our lives.’
Bergian’s goal of creating atmosphere instead of a mirror image of reality makes him a visual poet of the interior. Painting, he says, can carry more than photography. ‘I try to sniff the mysterious atmosphere of all these places and images. A result you can’t entirely get through photography. I prefer to work with a brush and paint. The process is slower, but you give the image more time to penetrate the mind.’
Frances Borzello, January 2013
Pierre Bergian studied archaeology in Ghent, Belgium. He has painted interiors since the 1990s. His favourite subjects are artists’ studios and museums. He is inspired by the houses of art collectors as well. On the other hand he is fascinated by mountains. The paintings in this exhibition are the result of his travelling in the last two years through Europe, visiting different cities and landscapes. He exhibits his paintings and sketches in London, Paris and Amsterdam.
Dr Frances Borzello is the author of At Home: The Domestic Interior in Art, Thames & Hudson, 2006 (in French, Intérieurs: Les Peintres de l’intimité, Hazan). Her most recent book is The Naked Nude published by Thames & Hudson.