Far from studious, Bernard quit college at the age of 14 to dedicate himself to the game of ‘poker’, which he discovered in the backyard of a pub in his hometown. He became fascinated and passionate about the game and spent his following years living from and for poker. In 1977, aged 24 years, Bernard met his future wife, Anne Hertig and they had two daughters together.
Devoting himself to his wife and family made Bernard forget about the game that previously was his passion.
Bernard had always been fond of beauty and aesthetics and in his youth had collected post cards by the hundreds, something he had in common with his wife, Anne. This developed into a passion and he gathered illustrated postcards – like the beautiful ones of Alfonse Mucha. Bernard’s taste for colour and beauty became influential in the many things he did. An instinctive and sensitive man, he developed into a modernist artist.
Anne and Bernard married in 1981 and together they built up a restaurant business – “Beach at Sainte-Maxime”, on the Cote d’Azur. The business soon acquired a sound reputation among European and French tourists. In 1990 a friend of Bernard’s, Serge Lenczer, an agent representing various artists and painters, asked Bernard to organise some exhibitions. Happy to enhance his restaurant with carefully chosen works of art, Bernard offered his restaurant as a location for the paintings.
For three years, paintings from young foreign artists were displayed there, enabling these young painters to bring their work before a wider audience in the south of France. It was in 1993 that Bernard met a Russian immigrant painter, Mickael Turovsky, leading him to promote a defining exhibition in his restaurant – an encounter which became the determining catalyst of Bernard’s career.
Bernard’s enthusiastic and generous manner resulted in him introducing Mickael to the countryside around Provence. He wanted him to interpret in paint the evocative landscapes of the South of France. Their travels brought them to Cassis, which Turovsky – like other painters before him – found particularly inspirational. Although the two men did not speak the same language, they soon became firm artistic friends.
During the summer months Turovsky would rent an atelier in St. Tropez and invite Bernard to spend time with him. Gradually Bernard began to develop an understanding as well as a profound appreciation of Turovsky’s work. One day Turovsky, seeing Bernard’s passion for painting, set up another easel next to his own and invited him to paint. That day a painter was born.
Oil painting came naturally to Bernard. Coloured flowers were transformed into butterflies, and paintings of the sea and portraits of women’s faces became his first series. He began to develop a discerning taste in colour, composition and outstanding textured backgrounds. Turovsky commented about Bernard: ‘The arrival of Bernard to painting can be compared to a leap on to a high-speed train’. Given the time needed for him to manage his business, Bernard was not able to devote much time to exhibiting his work.
He was, however, building up a large collection of oil paintings in the abstract modernist style. We are delighted and privileged to make this work available for the first time.