Janez Bernik, Yugoslavian (1933 - )

Janez Bernik

 A significant contemporary European artist, Janez Bernik creates paintings that employ both abstract and inorganic language in striking ways. At once formally innovative and emotionally expressive, Bernik's work has a somber, anarchic quality. Janez Bernik's work has been exhibited to wide acclaim from his native Yugoslavia to the Venice Biennale. He holds a chair at the Academy of Arts in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Bernik's revolutionary painting at the beginning of the sixties departs from traditional, popular themes in Slovenia. This style of painting which does not depict an object, involves either the emancipation of color or the abstraction of motifs of landscape still retained at that time. Bernik's work, however, departs from this tradition. The essence of what is painted is in its concrete elements, constructed independently of the external world, in the creative action of the painter.

One central theme in Bernik's opus is magma, which reappears in surprisingly similar variants throughout his painting, despite the different cycles of motifs. The magma phase began with the depiction of quarries, camps, and islands of nomads. His works, sometimes directly entitled Magma or even Picture, informally state his search for a new sign of time - time in both senses: as the common dimension of the existence of modern humanity and as the artist's personal time.

The results achieved by Bernik represent a decisive step in the direction of absolute painting, a liberation from any depiction of the visual appearance of the perceived world and, as a substitute for that, the complete expressiveness of the painter's material: the pure effect of the means of painting, primarily the palpable spreading of the painter's materials. Selected solo exhibitions and participations of Bernik include: 1962,1968,1972, and 1988 Biennial of Venice. 1962 Biennial of Graphic Arts, Tokyo. 1965 Biennial of Sao Paulo. 1972 "Portfolio 73rd International Exhibition of Prints", San Francisco. 1991 International Biennial of Graphic Art, Ljubljana. 1992 Print Biennial, Seoul.

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