The Dutch-born Belgian artist, Bram Bogart is an artist associated with bold, thickly physical colour and form. His legacy is the culmination over seven decades of the foundational modernist impulse to stage and progress the stuff of paint.
'Witte de Witte' comprises a group of rare monochrome or near monochrome works made between 1952 and 2006 which illustrate his achievement through relative context without the seduction of colour, allowing his contribution to the story of modernism to be witnessed in starker, more elemental and more overtly physical terms.
The exhibition illustrates Bogart’s shift in the fifties and sixties into pure abstraction and his progressive inquiry into and testing of the material surface of painting. This restriction of colour he said, 'evoked a kind of tranquility in me’ despite constantly striving for 'the field of tension to be retained’.
The works point us in the direction of other in the artist’s personal pantheon, to the asceticism and severities of Piet Mondrian or the brooding sea and landscapes of Flemish expressionist Constant Permeke. But it is not all asceticism and severity. Even here in these reductive circumstances – even with red, blue, green and yellow banished – we may still feel how much Bogart shared with his hero Van Gogh an open attitude to life and to sensation, a directness, a just-controlled turbulence and an appealing gaucheness. Like Fontana, who instigated swaps of work, he challenged the sculptural qualities of the void and has left a vital and important contribution to the history of art.