Friday, December 09, 2011

Arty Farty Friday ~ JOHFRA, Zodiac Signs, Magic Realism

Johfra - full name: Franciscus Johannes Gijsbertus Van Den Berg - known as Johfra Bosschart (Bosschart being his mother's maiden name), but often referred to simply as "Johfra". He was born in Rotterdam, Holland on 15 December 1919, lived in France from the 1960s until his death in 1998. Left: his self-portrait, as a faun.

His style, described in his autobiograpy, was "surrealism based on studies of psychology, religion, the Bible, astrology, antiquity, magic, witchcraft, mythology and occultism," is also categorised as meta-realism. Next to Dalí, Fuchs and Giger, Johfra was one of the founders of magic- or fantastic-realism in the 20th century

Best-known are his set of 12 paintings depicting signs of the zodiac. All 12 can be seen HERE, or HERE. I'll copy only Sagittarius, Johfra's Sun sign, and Aquarius, his rising sign. ( Astrodatabank gives an reliable AA rating to a birth time of 10.40 AM )

Sagittarius Sun & Mercury with Aquarius rising is really all the astrology we need in order to recognise the source of his subject matter - not forgetting Venus (planet of the arts) in out-of-sign harmonious trine to both Uranus in Aquarius (it's sign of rulership) and nightmare-ish Pluto in intuitive Cancer.

A blend of Sagittarius (philosophy, religion) with Aquarius (the weird and wonderfully eccentric) would almost certainly bring forth something along the lines we see in the examples of Johfra's work below. (See more via Google Image.)

Natal Moon, conjunct dynamic Mars in Libra, sign ruled by Venus planet of the arts, point to Johfra's innate artistic talent. I'd expect to see Neptune prominent too - and here the planet of creativity and dreams is conjunct Jupiter (expansion, exaggeration) and in mildly helpful semi-sextile to Saturn (tradition and discipline): here is the link to his throw-back to a traditional art style mixed with imaginative dream-like, occasionally nightmare-like subject matter.

From biography HERE
According to his second wife, Ellen Lrien, He was a dreamer as a child, very contemplative, who had difficulty concentrating in school. As opposed to his algebra lessons, he prefered to observe the minute patterns manifest in stones, roots, and the bark of trees. Clouds fascinated him especially, as he'd search them for faces and the play of light and shadow.
A talent for drawing manifest itself very early, and was recognized by the Royal Acadamy of Arts in the Hague when they accepted him, as an exceptional case, at the age of fourteen.
In fact, he gained little from the lectures and spent most of his time studying copies of antiquity from the collection in the cellars of the academy. Particularly the works of Da Vinci and Michelangelo appealed to him, and these masters remained a source of inspiration throughout his life.

In a Nazi propaganda pamphlet denouncing Ontaarde Kunst (Improper Art), Johfra came across the Surrealist works of Dali, Ernst, Tanguy, and Magritte. Particularly Dali's works struck a chord with him, and this modern master was added to his more classical pantheon. He began painting surrealist works with a classical technique in 1941.

Hermes Trismegistus

Witches' Sabbath

Woman and Face

Nostalgia for Lemuria

Pearl Guardian



Molly Hall said...

These are stunning Twilight, and I'm excited to know about this Dutch artist. I've got to stop by your place more often!

James Higham said...

Twilight, I see "magic realism" in your tags. Nice juxtaposition of words.

libramoon said...

thank you for reminding me of the beauty of this art

Anonymous said...

GP: How good he did not stop being the dreamer he was when a child.

So many adults become stale as they "forget" their origins and sources!

Twilight said...

Molly Hall ~~ Hi there! Thanks for stopping by.
Yes - I'd like to see some of the originals - bet they are even more stunning. :-)

Twilight said...

James Higham ~~ Yes - not my invention though, it's an accepted art style, along with fantastic realism and meta-ealism and any number of other -realism combinations.

Twilight said...

libramoon ~~ Hi! Glad you enjoyed them.

Twilight said...

Anonymous/Gian Paul ~~ It is good, yes. He was obviously deeply into all kinds of mystical, magical subjects.