Bert Brus took to drawing and painting as a toddler and has been doing so ever since. As a student chemistry he sold pen drawings to make ends meet. He is a master in various techniques (pen drawing, watercolor, oil painting and etching) but nowadays concentrates on oil painting.
He lives with his family in the more rural eastern part of The Netherlands.
Like the Surrealists painting from dream analysis, Bert Brus uses the images coming to him just before dropping off. This period of complete relaxation offers a perfect opportunity to wonder about the beauty and humor of our daily life.
“Dreams originate in reality, the images I use, summarize my reality”
Those images are at the base of his paintings. Sketching he catches the image’s effect and character, making sure there’s some sort of balance or rather imbalance, between its meaning, composition and color. It’s this imbalance that betrays Brus’ great sense of humor. Of course every spectator will judge differently but the process of finding out how the painting agrees or disagrees with reality, guarantees a dynamic experience.
René Renders and David van der Linden, Gallery Bonnard:
Bert Brus is new at Galerie Bonnard, from September 2018 we represent his paintings in our gallery. More than a year ago we went to the east of the country. There we became acquainted with the artist, his work and working method. At that acquaintance we get a tour of the studio. This is divided into a ‘design angle’ and a ‘painting angle’. The design angle is also the place where paintings are dried in a specially constructed rack. This gives us a good insight into the working methods of Bert Brus. Various layers of oil paint over each other is one aspect of this. Every new layer requires a dry surface. This means that between the beginning and the completion of a work of art can take a year. Brus is always working on several paintings at the same time. The work of Brus varies from a few cm’s to more than a meter wide, to get a picture you have to be able to see it as it is with us. From Bert Brus we always have work in our stock exhibition. Now at the introduction of this special artist we are exhibiting five brand new paintings in the ‘kitchen’ of our gallery. Brus himself about his work: “Dreams arise in reality, the images that I use, summarize my reality” The reality of the artist is the starting point of the viewer’s imagination. There is room for everyone’s story in the paintings. The compositions literally and figuratively demand an interpretation. What interpretation is given to the viewer, as the artist has already revealed his reality.
Wim van der Beek (writer/art critic curator contemporary art), Gallery Terbeek:
“The phrase ‘realistic painting’ is actually an umbrella term. It does not encompass an entire movement but is rather a chameleonic phenomenon that includes a multitude of split-offs and variables. We can distinguish magical realism, mega-realism and hyperrealism, tranquil realism and stylised realism, metaphysical realism, photographic realism, surrealism, eclectic realism and aesthetic realism. The above is just a random selection of the many varieties of realism that have already been named and that enjoy an art historical definition. It is interesting that all of these terms apply, to a certain extent, to the work of Bert Brus, and yet none of them quite manage to define the essence of his work. However, the artist in question has come up with his own definition. He employs the term ‘almost realistic paintings’ in relation to his work: Realistic painting, but with a twist. The deft touch that he imparts to reality is the key to the success of his formula and to the unique quality of his work”.
Emily Ansenk M.A., director of the Kunsthal Rotterdam:
“His work displays elements of magic realism and surrealism; this shows in the use of cool colours, light and the peculiar atmosphere. Nevertheless his paintings are never cold or bleak. He’s not afraid of emptiness and his paintings convey calm and tranquility but never bleakness or solitude. One is perhaps forced to ask questions but is never alarmed. These various aspects show clear parallels between Brus’ work and that of Pyke Koch, Carel Willink, Giorgio de Chirico and René Magritte.
Just like the artists named above, Brus takes reality as the point of departure for his work, but then abstracts, with attention to division of surfaces, composition, light and colour. I see in this a remarkable resemblance to the work of Co Westerik and Jan Beutener, who, in their work, magnify objects and body parts and search for the boundary between realism and the abstract.”.
Jeroen Krak, Gallery NUMMER40:
“Bert Brus is best known for his almost realistic paintings, but he has also successfully explored more abstract, non-figurative alleys. Using his skilful oil paint techniques, he has created a very personal and authentic vocabulary of two dimensional compositions with simple geometric forms. The observer however is fooled by the subtly added bright accents and shadows and therefore initially perceives the abstract works as true three dimensional constructions. The artist’s use of these techniques in combination with the simple forms shows that he totally understands the concept of perspective as originally described by the 15th century Italian architect and art theorist Leon Battista Alberti. In a sense his abstract works are optical illusions in the Dutch tradition of M.C. Escher combined with the simple forms used by Minimal Art icons like Donald Judd and Carl Andre.”
Esther Nienhuis M.A., historian:
“Fragments from his immediate surroundings are the basis of Bert Brus’ work. He is able to bring together in a coherent oeuvre diverse motives, such as man, nature and architecture, the binding element being the abstract concept ‘time’. Brus plays with this concept in various ways. He sometimes portrays time in asymbolic fashion, like a bridge that connects the past to the present and sometimes he just tries to express ‘timelessness’.
Even though he paints in a realistic style and his images refer to the world around him, the artist feels it is of great importance to give an original twist to reality. He does this by using abstraction and he also feels it is very important to summon up a specific ambience. He is able to bring an alienating tranquillity to his work through the conscious use of light and colour and by not being afraid to use a certain amount of vacuity.”