Divergent Points, 1940
Oil on canvas
9.50 x 13.1 inches/24.1 x 33.3 centimeters
Signed lower right and dated "J. Bernal, 1940"
Verso: Titled, signed and dated in pencil "Divergent Points, Jose Bernal, 1940"
Frame: 14.25 x 18 inches
Estimate: USD 1,500-2,500
José Bernal was born in Santa Clara, Cuba, in 1925. He earned his Master of Fine Arts at Leopoldo Romañach School of the Plastic Arts in 1961. During his early childhood, his parents noticed his passion for art and introduced him to the works of European modernists. From that point onward he was privately tutored in art and commenced an exploration of modernist movements that influenced and inspired his work in the 1940s and 1950s. In April of 1961, during the Bay of Pigs invasion, he was arrested for "unpatriotic behavior." In 1962, he and his family were exiled to the United States and settled in Chicago.
Throughout the 1960s Bernal's paintings were exhibited and sold at Merrill Chase Gallery, Chicago and Marshall Field's art galleries. At the latter, Betty Parsons, art dealer and collector, discovered his work and placed a series of commissions to exhibit his work at Dayton's art galleries in Minneapolis. Betty Parsons' promotion of Bernal's paintings was a lucrative success that afforded him to focus on the creation of his highly personal art.
In 1970 José Bernal returned to the study of art and in 1971 the School of the Art Institute of Chicago granted him a certified evaluation of his MFA. From the 1970s through the mid 1990s his prolific artistic output was exhibited in a number of exhibitions. During this period he also taught art at the Chicago Public Schools until 1993 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson disease and retired. In 2004 he donated 300 of his artworks to the National Parkinson Foundation for the exclusive purpose of raising funds for Parkinson disease research. Presently, in his studio at home, he continues his passionate involvement with the artistic process.
Throughout the stages of Bernal's unique art career, from the 1940s to present, his prolific body of work reflects the character of his independent nature, and the complexity of his diverse oeuvre reveals common threads in his distinctly personal aesthetics. Critics have noted that his sensitive and thought provoking sensibility is aligned with some of history's finest artists. His collages and assemblages have been described "as metaphors for the role of the viewer vis-a-vis the creative process" that engage a "dialogue concerning substance and illusion, art and reality."
Bernal's art has been discussed in Two (2) books on Latin American Art by Dorothy Chaplik, as well as reviewed in art periodicals. A selected list of José Bernal's exhibitions include shows at Circulo de las Bellas Artes, Havana (1952), Leopoldo Romañach School of the Plastic Arts (1955-1961), Marshall Field's, Chicago (1964), Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (1972-74), National Parkinson Foundation, Miami (2005-2007).