Bert Ernie – artist
An artist who is chasing perfection. Bert Ernie is an artist who strives for perfection whether it is painting photorealism or abstraction, taking a photograph or creating a sculpture. He knows he’ll never achieve total perfection, but it’s the central part of his personality.
Bert has been painting photorealism since 1998, and abstraction since the year 2000. In that time he has completed 37 photorealist works and a similar number of abstract paintings. Many of the photorealistic paintings are large, visually complex and therefore very time consuming in their creation. He has made a deliberate attempt at trying to not have a common theme to his paintings. There are several themes – they are (in order of appearance)
- BMX (and more specifically – the joy of riding BMX)
- War and violence
- CNC machining (and the metaphor of accuracy)
Bert has no formal art qualifications. He has never attended art school and is entirely self taught. His entire process of creating photorealistic paintings is a result of trial and error. Starting with a grid he draws the entire painting onto the surface without the use of a projector. Then the painting process begins. This can take as little as one day or several hundred hours. Eventually, layer by layer, a coherent image appears.
Success means different things to different people. Originally for Bert it meant the simple act of being able to paint a realistic artwork. Then later, as the paintings became more conceptual, the notion of being a ‘success’ began to take a hold.
He is currently working on writing several books as well as a series of paintings of the picturesque town of Yarra Glen.
Bert Ernie’s artist statement
Why I make my art.
Primarily my paintings, both photorealistic and abstract, are made to satisfy my need to express my love, my joy, my pain, my hate, and my interests in the real world. I am interested in making everlasting paintings that will provide enjoyment, interest and discussion for the people who would view them many years after my death. My photorealist paintings allow for me to constantly challenge my technical skills whilst always remaining true to my belief that visual tricks are only half the equation; the other half being the paintings conceptual value. My abstract painting is simply about raw emotional expression and total visual beauty.
What inspires me to make my art.
My photorealist paintings are inspired by seventeenth century Dutch art. My intention is to create contemporary twenty first century equivalents. I am also inspired by some of the modern day photorealist painters like Richard Estes, Chuck Close and Malcolm Morley. My abstract art is inspired by Jackson Pollock and Jean Paul Riopelle.
What my art signifies and represents.
My photorealist art signifies my obsession with perfection. I strive for perfection, and try to come as close as possible to imitating the source image. Sometimes I can improve upon the inherent problems with the photography which is one reason I give to the oft asked question – ‘why paint a photograph’. My photorealist art represents my passions. I love painting something as beautiful as the human form and the surface of real life objects; and at the same time communicating an important idea or emotion. My abstract paintings represent my need to fill the void that photorealism would struggle to fill. I paint things that haven’t been seen, couldn’t be seen or communicate simple raw emotions.
What unique and special about how I make my art.
My photorealist art is unique in that I don’t stick to one theme. As far as I know I am the only photorealist to regularly switch between portraits, still life, landscape and specialized genre paintings. I also am the only photorealist who appropriates other people’s images and reuses them to create my own art. My techniques also make me significantly different. I draw highly detailed drawings using the grid technique and not a projector. I also paint without the use of an airbrush. As far as my abstract painting goes I feel there is little to mark me as anything unique or special.
What my art means to me.
My art means more to me than anything else in the world. I am completely self-taught and have struggled through desperate poverty, serious injury and debilitating mental illness to try and succeed as a professional artist. The complete and utter lack of financial success only serves me to continue to strive to improve and grow as an artist. My only hope is that many years after I have died people will stand back and admire my work.