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Bernadette (“Berna”, as she autographs her works) van Baarsen was born and raised in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. After finishing her high-school she followed trainings for nurse and architect, whilst at the same time being a lead singer in two Dutch punk bands and making sculptures in plexiglass. Later in life she decided to pursue an academic career and obtained a PhD in psychology and medical ethics. She worked as associate professor at the Free University of Amsterdam and was member of several high-level medical-ethical committees.


In 2015 she settled in France. Being essentially autodidact, she took up painting, in particular after being inspired by the Provençal landscape and friendships with fellow artists. She deepened her art and techniques with the painters Joanna Tyson, (NZ), Tamara van den Berg and Annemarie Derksen (NL), and Luc Robert (F). In recent years she has shown her work at successful expositions in various establishments in the Provence (restaurants, wine properties, municipal exhibition halls). She sells her work at her expositions, online and through La Galerie and La Galerie Bis in Cotignac.

After “Chapeau – 12 portraits in landscape”, her successful 2022 exposition (with almost 60% of her paintings sold), Bernadette started out on a new artistic voyage.  “Cercle des Arbres – exercices de style” shows her quest how to best capture the atmosphere of Provence, with its vibrant colours, overpowering sunshine and intertwining of natural and manmade geometries. Trees already forming an essential backdrop to the portraits in “Chapeau”, they have now become the portrayed themselves. Cypress, olive, oak, pine and vine appear in their iconic forms and settings. In the 25 exhibited oil paintings Bernadette explores the expressive power of styles that at first sight may seem very different, yet are bound by her characteristic vocabulary and palette. The also exhibited more than 40 studies in pastel form an interesting insight in the way Bernadette observes and interprets, and are fascinating artworks in their own right.

Text: Marc Heppener, 2022/23

Photo: Marc Heppener, 2023


Artist painter Bernadette van Baarsen, born in the Netherlands, is living in the French village Entrecasteaux in Provence since 2015. In 2019, in the garden of her friends Brigitte and Marianne, she followed a workshop by Johanna Tyson to discover the magic of painting.

After having been the pupil of Johanna Tyson - a New Zealand painter who, next to giving art classes in Nelson on the South Island, regularly teaches in France -, Bernadette deepened her techniques with Dutch painters such as Anne Derksen and Tamara van de Berg. She has not stopped painting since, be it in her own daily routine or sometimes with her artist friends Brigitte Cavadias and Suki Thomson.


The landscapes of the Provence are a constant source of inspiration for Bernadette. She paints the contrasts that spring from the soft or mysterious elements of these lands, as well as the feeling of endless loneliness that radiates from its horizons.

Her work sets out to render shapes that on first sight are inconspicuous, integrated in daily life, but who in a more abstract representation radiate and express serenity and quiet. In this way, a landscape without grandeur or a commonplace object, when seen through a window frame, will accumulate an intensity and presence that was erased by habit and brought back alive by the painting. To achieve this, she plays with strong and contrasting colours, but at the same time does not hesitate to blend them together in order to express every nuance nature offers her.


Her latest collection of paintings consists of 12 portraits. In them, every personage finds an echo from the surrounding nature, either through a dialogue of colours, or by referencing or contrasting shapes.


Text: Marianne Moinot, 2022

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