Design & Decoration S04 ep18 : Berko, Bero Fine Painting, [Belgium]
Interview with Berko
With galleries in Knokke-Zoute and Shanghai, Berko specialises in 19th century and early 20th century European paintings. Its main area of interest and research is 19th century Belgian paintings and it has issued various publications on this subject. Berko Fine Paintings covers the main genres of the 19th century: animaliers, seascapes, genre scenes, flowers paintings and still-lifes, landscapes and vedutas and Belle Epoque scenes. Born into a family of art and antique dealers, Patrick Berko has always had a passion for the academic, realist, orientalist and romantic schools of painting in addition to the Belle Epoque period of the early 20th Century. With his wife, Viviane, he has opened galleries in Knokke-Le-Zoute (in 1976), Paris (in 1978), Brussels (in 1983), Antwerp (in 1984), New York (in 1987), Tokyo (in 1989) and in Shanghai (in 2008). Specialists in quality European paintings. Patrick and Viviane Berko share their passion with their children Maximin, Irina and her husband Nicolas de Waziers, who manage the gallery in Shanghai.
We are living in Knokke and we have the gallery in Shanghai, two for our two children.
You are originally Russian origin coming from Minx [01:02] which is Belarus. And then your father was an antique auctioneer.
He was an auctioneer in Brussels in Coltrague in Knokke. And then we decided to do 19th century European paintings.
My husband is born in the business. When I was 15 I came on holiday in Knokke. My husband was an antique dealer and he
asked me “what are you doing”. “Oh, I’m on holiday, but the weather is not good”, “Oh come with me. I have a fair”. I was 15
and he was 18.
He was 14 when he had his first shop. And then after we did together an exhibition, but with antiques. Almost 38 to 40 years
ago he said “listen, it’s too important to know very well what we do, so we have to do a specific”. And we love very well the 19th
century and we did that together.
The 19th century is a very rich century where you have different manner of paintings. They begin like the 18th century very neo-
classic academic. You have everything in the 19th century. You have pre-Rafaeli [02:51], we love very much all these kinds of
paintings and even if its forty years that we do this we continue to love that and very much, not a little. But we always
attract,It's a fatal attraction.
We have animal painter like Verboeckhoven that we love very much. Jan Verboeckhoven. We love Fred Stevens. We love Jan
Strauss. We love Toussaint, this is like to say more impressionism [03:33]. But we like the quality.
Russian temperament is different? Like the French temperament, you buy art with your temperament.
But the Russian buy more with the heart.
Paintings, objects, antiques you can take everywhere. Today it’s not going good in one country, you can take it and you go in
another country. Now it’s easier Brazil, Russia everywhere. I remember 40 years ago we buy a lot in United States and it was
sometimes wrapped in paper from the wharf. You remember. Yes it was paintings that they bring from Europe in United states
and they saw that we were interested in the painting. And they asked if you want to see some paintings and then we saw that it
was newspaper from the period.
We had one client who bought all the gallery in once. Thirty years ago in Paris in one time. Then another to a Russian here. One
year in 2006 Silvio Berlusconi came to my stand to buy a painting. It was very funny because it was a beautiful painting with all
beautiful ladies and he loved it very much.
We sell during three years to a Chinese. My husband told me it’s an artist. I was very surprised that an artist buys so many
paintings and expensive paintings. Then one day our son called us asked if is possible to go by Mr. because he wants you come
to see his museum. Okay, but it’s with the plane one hour. We went there and we arrived in a little town. We said oh my god
where is it here? After 20 minutes in very dark we arrived in a town of 20 million people and the artist is the owner of a very
very large shopping mall. Where you have ten restaurants, five movie cinema, open every day to 11:30pm, hair dresser for the
children, everything. A very big town in inaudible [06:54]. I said to my husband, now I understand why he can buy.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Berko, Berko Fine Art, Belgium