J E F   B E R T E L S

Welcome to my personal site.
It should give a general idea of my work, and some practical information.
Reactions are welcome, but it’s not always possible for me to answer immediately. Don’t hesitate to send me a reminder if necessary.
I realise that my English isn’t perfect. Please try to see it as exotically interesting…

Short biography    contact    coming exhibitions      about my work


Short Biography
I was born on the 21st of November 1961.
My parents were Emiel Bertels and Marleen Tullen.
My father had a library full of science fiction, and an indestructible light-hearted look on life. My mother was more serious of nature, but had a talent for drawing and painting effortlessly. Both loved and played music.
There was also my sister Mieke and my brother Willem, now schoolteacher and nurse.
Television became common in the sixties. Batman, spaceship Orion and the films of Karel Zeman are among my very first memories.  The fact that stories were preferably about travelling through space, time, or the human vascular system, was obvious to us.


By the western window of our living room, next to the bookshelves full of imaginary worlds, there was a small desk. I sat there every day drawing, often for many hours. Besides reading, I didn’t do much else.

Our family wasn’t extraordinary, but fantasy was welcome.

Since 1986 there is Marijke. Thanks to her I’ve been able to make paintings practically full time all of my adult life, meanwhile with reasonable success.

As Marifey, she makes pottery now. mijke

Adress: hekstraat 17, 3890 Gingelom, Belgium.

T: 0032(0)11 88 28 22

E-mail: jefbertels@skynet.be

To see recent work, I refer to "coming exhibitions". It's possible to visit my studio by appointment, but it's not possible to see all available work at one place at the same time. Especially if you want to see older work, a studio visit could be interesting.

For reasons of integrety, the prices at home are the same as at exhibitions or in galleries. And besause I'm not good at it, I never negotiate them. Collectors of my work appreciate this.

Coming exhibitions:
(Most expos exhibit also the ceramic work of Marifey, indicated by +M)

- 01/11 - 08/12/2019: Solo Expo (+M)  Espace Jean-Ferrat, Longlaville, France
Monday > Friday: 14 - 17 h,  Sunday: 14 - 16 h.   http://espacejeanferrat.fr/

- 15 > 17/11/2019: Artfair Art3F Brussels (+M): https://www.art3f.fr/index.php/fr/bruxelles

- 16 - 24/11/2019: "Evenwicht", groupexpo, community centre Den Brueghel, Haacht, Belgium
Mo > Sat: 13 - 18 h, Sun: 11 - 18 h. Entrance: 5€

- 29/11 > 1/12/2019: Artfair Art3F Mulhouse (+M):  https://www.art3f.fr/index.php/fr/mulhouse

About my work
We all know that art should speak for itself.

Besides that, the available means of expression are so rich and divers that it’s no use to try to convert everyone to our particular passion. If we can inspire a small part of humanity now and than, we can be content.
I realise however that sometimes people like my work, but have also the impression that there is an underlying story they need to fully understand it. I can reassure you that this is not the case, and that everything you need is clearly visible.

It is the momentary character of the single image, like a painting, that allows you to fantasise with me. With every object, creature, tree, or shape, light and colour I put in, I search for the highest possible fertility for stories and emotions. It’s for you to fill in a particular story, if you want. Therefore I often say the content of a picture hangs in front of it, between you and the surface, and not hidden underneath. So don’t bother trying to decipher any symbols.

But indeed I am a bit more particular about expressing a certain atmosphere, or theme. In short, I could describe it as: the Transparency of the world. In other words, the mind-blowing and stratified complexity of the universe, of ourselves, and of our capacity to experience it, attempting to find some orientation. The phrase: “there must be more than we can measure” has little meaning to me because the world, when carefully observed, exceeds by far and in any aspect our imagination anyway. There is nothing boring about science, when we don’t confuse it with vain ambition of some scientists, or the political choices inherent to certain technology.
To me, the physical reality and our deepest spiritual experiences belong to one and the same Design space.  Science explores and describes the structure and history of it.  Art explores the endless and unexpected expressions of it, or what I call the fertile realms in it that haven’t been found yet by reality, and that could enrich our lives.

So I have always been passionately searching for “open images”, that can express my fascination for depth of time and space. This depth is not only visible literally, but also in the shape and behaviour of every living creature.
Sometimes I have the impression that my passion has developed by the growing notion that not everyone had eyes for stars, prehistoric animals or misty mountains, when available.

People ask me often about certain, influences and inspirations, and lately I hesitate to answer because I’ve had the experience that often my work is pinned down to just these elements. But if you beg, I could be a bit more specific:

- Obvious are the influence of  and Jeroen Bosch and even more Pieter Brueghel, and in particular his "Mad Meg", a painting in front of which i spent many hours.

- Music is a great inspiration. The musical worlds of Kate bush, Gustav Mahler, Benjamin Britten and many more generate ideas and images all the time.

-Less obvious are for example the geometric abstract work of Kandinsky, the poetic playfulness of Miro, the chaotic fantasy of Ian Miller. These artists thought me to compose freely, notwithstanding my love for detail.

-The stories of Jules Verne, with the gloomy engravings, and the bizarre film versions by Karel Zeman, installed in me very early that strange fabric of menace and humour.

-The paintings of my friend and colleague Jo Pirard are, however abstract, often considered similar to mine. Indeed we have in common our passion to interweave lyricism and geometry, broad strokes and detail, darkness and play.

-And of course this kind of lists are always incomplete, yet too long, and impossible to conclude. What I’m going to do anyway.