Always on the lookout for combinations and harmony, stomach Frédéric Bernardi does everything himself. He chooses a canvas, thick 500 gram linen, stretches it, primes it and applies home-made gesso, in keeping with tradition. Next, he mixes binders and mediums, testing the results on his palette until he finds the perfect tone. Layers of oil paints then alternate with layers of casein emulsion, applied with a paintbrush so that each layer can penetrate the previous one.
“Despite the heavy grain of the linen, my intention is to instill the painting with lightness, transparency and vibration. Once the image takes form, one begins to see things and to paint more freely.”
The artist evokes an atmosphere known to him, capturing internal landscapes as he sketches in watercolors and pastels. His thoughts take form as if they were memories.
His classical and technical training at the Fondation Nationale des Arts Graphiques et Plastiques provided him the opportunity, among other things, to study and copy great masters.
“An artist is always influenced by what he has learned. I copied many Pierre Bonnard paintings, I consider him my master. Each of my paintings is a draft of the next. My quest is to always continue to learn and to improve my technique.”
The artist knows the limitless plasticity of painting and its infinite resources. His teaching remains the cornerstone of the rigor in his artistic process. Confident in his skill, the artist has reached a place not given to all; he has freed himself of the method to find his own pictorial identity.
These powerful and original compositions take into account the separateness, the composite nature of everything. Tormented curves frame the solid fields of color that cover the surface. Everything is entangled in a furrowed landscape overwhelmed by color. Because more colors can be found in natural settings than in the city, Frederic Bernardi prefers to paint lush vegetation. Violet blends with yellow, blue, orange… The dense pigments and contrasts of color create depth. The solid fields of color find weight in their complementarity and speak of the irresistible process of harmonious creation.
Bernardi’s love of color was born thirty years ago during an exhibition when he discovered the painting L’entrée du village de Voisins by Camille Pissarro. Since then, between strangeness and familiarity, Frederick Bernardi explores his memory as well as his perception.
“I need to go even deeper into the color with ever more daring arrangements but without being violent. I do not cheat. If I paint a purple sky it is because I truly see a purple sky. I interpret and define the tones moving slowly away from reality but always with concern for integrity. The canvas is a closed world that must operate in a certain overall harmony, a well-being.”
The artist lays claims to a naturalistic and lyrical vision. The scenery is wild, lush and opens up on rare views. The line of the horizon escapes the eye, camouflaged by flora. These works reflect the idyllic fusion between the artist and nature and lead the viewer into gleeful speculation of the senses. They transport us to a world of romantic aesthetic where contemplation of the grandiose spectacle of untamed nature provokes deep emotion.
“Life is movement. My painting should tell a story and the viewer should feel good as he looks at it.”
To accomplish his desire to transmit the radiant palette of his emotions, Bernardi has adopted a unique style. If it remains figurative, it remains difficult to determine an exact scene and time. The viewer enters through a portal and slides under the weave of the canvas into a world, a magical cave, where mystery persists. The painter draws the focus towards focal points and overlays to draw the gaze deeper. Immersion is a clever enchantment in the timelessness of a moment.
Art for others
Frederic Bernardi is a committed artist. When not painting in his studio, he takes part in educational and social initiatives through artistic expression. In France, he teaches and reveals the talents of children of “La Source”. In New York, he supports “Free Arts New York City”.
He is also General Secretary of the National French Council of Plastic Arts (CNFAP).
Journalist / Art Critic