Introduction in English

Jos van den Berg
Born in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, 1948

He considers himself mainly self-taught, although the foundations for his technique were clearly laid by the Hague-based artist Henk Raab, in whose studio he worked at the end of the 1960s. His talent was matched only by his restlessness. Raab taught him to draw clearly and to repeat things over and over again until he had developed his own ‘handwriting’. While Raab’s style can be described as figuratively traditional by the standards of the post-war period in The Hague, Jos wanted to work more freely, in the manner of the COBRA painters (of whom Jorn and Appel are the best known). The Dutch artists Theo Jansen and Jan van Heel advised him to work more quickly, and above all in a more exuberant range of colour.

There is speed and spontaneity in his work. It occasionally looks unfinished, barely reaching the edges of the canvas. Slashes in the skin are a typical feature of his later approach, in which form and colour are built up layer by layer, allowing him to slice open the deeper layers and reveal unexpected colours. He paints the things that excite him - events close to home and out in the world. An untidy table after an afternoon spent in the garden with friends, exuberant peonies, a cassowary from Papua New Guinea in swiftly executed lines, distinguished cities and broad landscapes - always with some degree of abstraction. What are the chalk drawings produced a few days after the attack on the twin towers in New York if not a cry of helplessness? The impressive series of drawings from 2002 reveals both his ignorance of astronomy, neuroscience and mathematics and his fascination for these subjects.

He does so in the form of ink drawings with a velvety tone, enhanced by paper collages, gold foil and dabs of acrylic. If there was an influence here, it was the artist Jules Bissier (1896-1965), who mainly worked in Switzerland. However, Bissier’s work is distinctly anthroposophical.

Apart from drawings, Jos paints acrylic canvases in the same style. The vigorous brushstrokes give these an oriental flavour, which is enhanced by the use of red and gold. This oriental influence is hardly surprising, for Jos makes frequent trips to the Far East. His favourite destination is Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 15,000 islands that are home to a vast number of different cultures. His fascination for the country can be seen, among other things.

Solo and group exhibitions in the Netherlands and elsewhere. Work included in collections in the Netherlands and elsewhere.

De kunstenaar
De reiziger
The artist
The traveller