Bram Bogart (Delft 1921 - Sint-Truiden 2012) was a Dutch/Belgian abstract painter, sculptor, graphic artist, ceramist and designer. He was naturalized as a Belgian in 1969. Bogart attended vocational school in Delft and initially became a house painter. In the war years 1940-45 he attended the Art Academy in The Hague for a year, so as not to be put to work in Germany. Initially, artists such as Van Gogh, Permeke and Mondriaan provided much inspiration for his early work. Bogart sees himself as self-taught and rightly so. He is known for his abstract paintings and was considered an important representative of informal painting and Tachisme; derived from the French word "tache", meaning spot or stain.
His first paintings that he made in the Netherlands (period 1939-1948) were landscapes, cityscapes, still lifes and figure representations, painted in an expressionist style. In 1946 he went to Paris, where he regularly took drawing and painting lessons at the free academy de la Grande Chaumière. In 1947 he moved to Antibes and Le Cannet. There he started experimenting with directly applying unmixed colors and mixing different types of paint, which gave his canvases a cement-like appearance. This is how the foundation was laid for his material art.
Bogart also experimented with cubism and surrealism in the 1940s and 1950s. In the late 1950s his work evolved towards a more abstract and expressive style. The environment of the Cote d'Azur and African masks inspired him. Geometric signs appeared for the first time in his chalk-like works in these years. The sign as an image motif will always remain present in his work from then on. Everything in nature can be reduced to the sign, the rectangle, the square, the cross and the circle.
He applied thick layers of paint in bright, rich colors to the canvas with a palette knife, brush or his hands. Bogart's works were often monumental in size and have a strong physical presence and make a unique visual impact through the wild, pasty paint flow (impasto) as its main feature. He was concerned with color and form arising from matter, i.e. paint. This eventually led to completely abstract compositions of thickly applied paint in bright colors in the 1980s, which are considered to be part of material painting.
From 1951 to 1960 he lived again in Paris above a tannery on Rue Santeuil, where the Cobra artists Karel Appel, Lotti van der Gaag and Corneille also stayed. Alchemical Bogart, however, did not go along with their spontaneous painting style, because he rejected impulsiveness and chance. The Parisian Art Informel, the emerging Tachisme and the American Abstract Expressionism clearly inspired him more without being a member of the Informal group. He is one of the artists who has condensed the informal painting style into an essence that cannot be found anywhere else. The fascination with texture makes his work increasingly simple, powerful and monumental.
In 1960 he settled in Brussels and also took Belgian nationality. There he was given access to a spacious factory hall and started with his characteristic, massive paintings - built up in thick layers of pasty oil paint. These works were applied directly to a tightly stretched jute cloth. Cézanne was a great inspiration to him.
After several years in Brussels, Bogart moved to rural Walloon Ohain with his wife Leni; he lived and worked there until 1987 and two daughters and a son were born there. After a fire, he was unable to paint for a year and a half until gallery owner Willy D'Huysser arranged a spacious new place to live and work: Kortenbos Castle in Sint-Truiden. Here he alternates 'geometric' works with paintings consisting of enormous 'dots of paint' in a regular pattern: 'keyboard canvases'.
It mainly showed his works at renowned art dealers and major art fairs such as the Fiac in Paris and the Basel art fair. Between 1963 and 1967 he received several (Belgian) prizes, including the "Prize of Criticism". In 1968 he represented Belgium at the Venice Biennale. In the Netherlands, his work can be seen in the Cobra Museum and Museum Voorlinden.
Just before the painting itself, a substance of boiled poppy oil, pigments and zinc white was mixed with water, after which the paint had to be quickly applied to the horizontal canvas. Because the water in the oil paint dries much faster than the oil paint, many 'drying channels' were created in this impasto. These ensured that the enormous, thick layers of oil paint on the canvas were given air and dried from the inside. This characteristic method prevented any of the paint from clogging up, which means that the openness and mobility of the paint remains intact.