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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.
“Elle et sa culotte” translates to “she and her underwear” in English and it speaks to Philippe Bertho’s sense of humor. A lot is going on around his artwork yet the focus, and the title of the artwork remain focused on the deliberate exposure of the main character, who is leaning carelessly on a flipped chair. Unlike other artwork, “Elle et sa culotte” is linear, and rectangular in shape, with the color orange bursting in the background. The same character sitting in a chair seems to peek from behind a door as if to see the reaction her provocative pose caused. “Elle et sa culotte” is a 34 x 34 – inch serigraph on linen.
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.