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About the WorkWhimsical, with an exquisite technique and subtle chromatic flourishes, the universe of a Philippe Bertho painting is a metaphysical three-ring circus. Music plays, plates spin, and errant souls ensnared in cardboard boxes are as likely to sail through the Bertho Universe with nimble feats of visual strength.
Always a student of the arts as well as an artist, Bertho himself has observed that the techniques he perfected through formal art education in Rheims, France are the tools with which he creates images that appear real but exist only in the disorienting and provocative realism that are utterly his own. Through his art, he creates a visual story that just the viewer can complete using the imagination and sense of humor.
Bertho’s characters seem to emerge from nowhere, and they feed our curiosity to see what might lie on the other side of the artist’s stylishly alluring portals. Bertho’s work offers tantalizing evidence of a vast source of artistic inspiration. From Norman Rockwell to the trompe l’oiel style painters whose canvases “fool the eye” into believing that what is perceived is real. Bertho’s paintings and prints abound with influences from more contemporary sources as well.
In “Life Box 2” we are shown a central character in a Bertho universe of color, and circles. His universe is pink, and in this universe, the character is peeking inside the “Life Box 2,” as an outsider. The character could be anyone, she is ordinarily dressed in clothes that allow freedom of movement. The artwork is alive, and the character, circles, color, and the box seem to always be in full movement.
“Life Box 2” is part of a 2008 select collection of Philippe Bertho's most famous paintings that were chosen for lithographic reproduction. “Culture Machine,” “Ego Woman,” “La Madone,” “Life Box 2,” “Madness,” “Non Sens,” “Pop Fiction” and “Tchéguéso Love 2” comprise the complete collection of 8 images. Each work is exemplary of Bertho's trademark trompe l'oeil and Pop style liberally sprinkled with his unique sense of humor and take on modern society.
Chalk & Vermilion Fine Arts worked directly with the artist to painstakingly recreate the images in miniature and hand-pulled each in an edition of 395. Each lithograph is hand-signed by the artist. “Life Box” is a 9 x 9 — inch hand signed serigraph on linen created in 2008.
About the Artist
Philippe Bertho is classically trained having enrolled in art school in Reims, France in the early 1990s. There, he spent considerable time studying decorative trompe l’oeil painting. Tromp l’oeil (“to fool the eye”) is a technique used by artists to create the illusion of a 3rd dimension on a flat surface. It is obvious from Bertho’s artwork that he fools much more than the eye…he draws one in by the heart and also quite frequently by the funny bone. Despite his ability to perfectly render reproductions of masterworks, Bertho was drawn to the world of fantasy and illusion. As his style developed, he drew inspiration from renowned contemporary trompe-l’oeil artist, Jacques Poirier. In his early work, Bertho exhibited ingenuity by including unusual materials in his paintings. Employing objects that other’s found useless – corrugated iron, rusted metal boxes, old light bulbs – he was fascinated with his ability to bring his art alive by creating dimension – either by the addition of these items directly onto his canvas or later through the technique of trompe l’oeil.