Ostend, Belgium
1957 – 1996

In his brief but remarkable professional career as an artist, Herman Bellaert (1957 - 1996) evolved from the expressionism of the 1980s to more abstract work, particularly in his intriguing, vigorous canvases that embrace mystery, before later on experimenting with various materials such as lead, reclaimed wood and pure colour in which silence predominates.

Herman Bellaert was born in Ostend and attended graphic art courses at Saint-Lucas in Ghent. This graphic art background plays a defining role in his paintings of the 1980s. It can be recognized in the composition of his work, even in the use of colours. The colour black is often quite clearly present, sometimes emphatically so. It is expressive work that emerges. Although it is abstract, at the same time it evokes memories of space and places in the mind. It lets you wander through the work and takes you to unfamiliar places shrouded in mystery. It’s not a smooth piece of art, it’s like a rough shell, still unfinished with space for both adventure and surprise. It is so infinitely more than just a painting. 


At some stage the rather gloomy use of colour becomes brighter, more contrasting. In the diptych ‘Luna Luna’, for which he was selected for the Europa Prize, warm red and yellow ochre emerge emphatically, while the bright yellow shimmers through the black that largely dominates the work. Black over and over again. It’s for this reason that he once said : “Where shall I end up? Maybe totally in black?” He actually loved the work of Pierre Soulages, the French painter known for the use of black in his paintings. The encounter with Soulages only came later, when he exhibited alongside him in the Veranneman Foundation. But he also loved the work of Constant Permeke, whose fine sense of strong outlines can be found in the work of the young painter.

Another diptych, also dating from 1988, reveals that a partially black background has been painted over with red and purple or violet. Large blocks of colour leave some space here and there for smudges of yellow, white and blue: brushstrokes and deletions, interventions and exposures, as if they were accidental but highly motivated. And then there is the diagonal structure that draws you into the painting, that vague perspective that drags you almost without noticing into the undefined space.


That same year another development was already evident in Herman Bellaert’s work. The more subdued, slightly cooler abstraction. But don’t be mistaken. To quote the artist himself: 


“The starting point of my work is always something that moves me in my immediate everyday surroundings. Through painting I let these tangible subjects (woman, landscape, studio,...) lose their substance so to speak. In this way, the original subject is elevated to the status of a universal concept. Once the figurative theme has been triggered, I let go of this specific element. This is purely intuitive, which allows me greater freedom while I am painting. By using this ‘abstract’ approach - abstract because there is no immediate link with reality - I am increasingly freeing myself from the material element, the original image. I experience this method of working as a ‘spiritual’ process, transcending reality. Reality stripped of all excess baggage, of all things that are not essential. Painting or sculpting as a form of contemplation.”


Daan Rau, februari 2020



1975   Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten Gent

1976 – 1980 Hoger Sint-Lucasinstituut Gent 


Individuele tentoonstellingen 

1987   Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Oostende 

1989   Galerij William Wouters, Oosteeklo

1992   Galerij S65, Aalst

1995   Stichting Veranneman, Kruishoutem 

1996   Het Kunsthuis, vzw Vrienden van het PMMK, Oostende  

2000   Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Oostende 

2000   Het Kunsthuis, vzw Vrienden van het PMMK, Oostende
2015   VERSTILD, Venetiaanse Gaanderijen, stad Oostende

2020   Retrospective 1986 - 1996, Hilde Vandaele Gallery, Watou



1988   Prospect 7, Gele Zaal, Gent

1988   Biënnale Beeldende Kunst West-Vlaanderen

1988   Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris 

1991   Galerij Verplancke – Van Bavel, Brugge 

1991   Art Basel (Galerij S65), Basel 

1992   “Modernism in Painting“ PMMK, Oostende 

1993   “Modernism in Painting“ Museum Van Bommel - Van Dam, Venlo

2018   ‘‘Voorbij de aanwezigheid” Hilde Vandaele Gallery, Watou 

2019   ‘‘Works of Art” Hilde Vandaele Gallery, Watou

2022   ‘‘Emergent nodigt uit’’, Hilde Vandaele Gallery, Emergent, Veurne BE



1987   Jeune Peinture Belge (selectie) Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, Brussel 

1988   Europaprijs voor Schilderkunst (selectie) PMMK, Oostende 

1988   Tweejaarlijkse Prijs voor Beeldende Kunst van de Provincie West-Vlaanderen 

1988   (laureaat) Brugge 


Werkbeurs Vlaamse Gemeenschap 

1988   Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris  mei – september 



1992   Reeks van vijf etsen in opdracht van de Vrienden van het PMMK

1996   Catalogus van de tentoonstelling in het Kunsthuis, Vrienden van het PMMK

2015   Catalogus van de tentoonstelling in de Venetiaanse Gaanderijen,   VERSTILD,  

1988   stad Oostende 


Werken in het bezit van 

Mu.ZEE, Oostende    

Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken, Brussel 

Nationale Bank van België, Brussel 



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