Bierenbroodspot: Only the material and the magic

Bierenbroodspot always walks barefooted, whether over the rough unlandscaped grounds of archaeological ruins or when she paces on the stones of temple floors. And she is always barefoot when she paints, indoors or out. So, she literally made footloose contact with alabaster, the ancient stone of choice for temple pavements, that soft, translucent stone with surprise veins of colour in the heart of it. Just as she abhors painting on untouched paper or an empty canvas, but always primes away its whiteness with a happenstance of colour and structure, so alabaster’s streaks of mineral tones suggest to her an inner vitality in the stone. As if the stone is waiting to change its face.

“My sculpture must pulsate with life – it does not matter anymore what form, what style: only the material and the magic is a personal choice.”

Bierenbroodspot confronts painting on terms of her own making, honing superb drawing skills, sharing an arcane knowledge of paints, and a rare breadth of vision. She recreates the gritty imprecision of the ancient world – admitting into her paintings the flukes of time that have changed walls and statues almost beyond recognition, but also sharing the intentional designs of artists two millennia ago and yesterday.

Very old and very new

Combining oil paint, tempera, ink and aquarelle, the result is a tactile, almost physical encounter – the shock of seeing an unknown world for the first time ever, at once very old and very new — the walls we were searching for without knowing it: the present, the presence. The imaginative responses that we, the beholders, feel in its presence lay claim to its true authority. It is not and never will be avant-garde. It is just very beautiful.


Gerti Bierenbroodspot: photo by Nico Koster

The 1980s in The Netherlands was the era of Willem Sandberg who, as director of the Stedelijk Museum, put our contemporary and Modern Art on the international stage. Bierenbroodspot, one of the few female artists, worked independently but allied with the well-known painters of the CoBrA movement — Karel Appel, Corneille, Tajiri, Rooskens, Wolvencamp, Walasse Ting. This was also the heyday of Willem de Kooning, Lucebert, and Jan Cremer. The top photographer of the time was Nico Koster, later famed throughout the world for his legendary photos of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in Amsterdam. He recorded many canonical images of the time in his book, ‘Chroniqueur of an Artist Generation’: Koster didn’t picture the works of art but the artists themselves in the characteristic way that his eye saw them. Bierenbroodspot was the youngest of the artists who defined that era, and a rare female artist among the CoBrA painters, a generation that left a lasting mark in the art-historical world.


Bierenbroodspot (born in Amsterdam) began to draw in the studio of her famous uncle, Leo Gestel, an important Dutch modernist. She studied at the National Academy of Art in Amsterdam. Bierenbroodspot uses archaeological worlds as starting points for her paintings, sculptures and wall-rubbings, creating a highly personal vision of a modernity, grand in theme as well as in manner. Like the painters of a last Golden Age, Bierenbroodspot spends three months every year travelling along the magnificent archaeological trails of the Middle East. During her life she has been living and working among the ruins of three great Caravan Cities: Petra, Palmyra, and Baalbeck. Gerti Bierenbroodspot is a leading Dutch artist and works as a painter, sculptor, writer and poet.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2023-2024 Parc Broekhuizen, Leersum. Solo

2021-2022 Slot Zeist, Retrospectief

2013-2014  Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (RMO), Leiden. Petra Revisited

2011 Slot Zeist, Solo

2008 Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (RMO), Leiden. Retrospective

1996-1997 & 2008 Museum JAN, Amsterdam

2002 Gallery Four Walls, Amman, Jordan

1999 National Museum. Beirut. Cultural Capital for the Arab World, the official reopening of the Museum.

1995 Renée Fotouhi Fine Art, New York; East Hampton, N.Y.

1991 Liverpool Gallery, Brussels

1987 New York Academy of Art, New York

1998, 1990 Singer Museum, Laren, Solo

Time Travel in Blue

Bierenbroodspot created Time Travel in Blue together with cellist Ernst Reijseger. This performance is part of the artist’s oeuvre, consisting of visual art, literature and music. Photography Erik de Goederen..


Visual adventures captured in a Gesamtkunstwerk in which performances, music, film and visual art merge. A short documentary by Guus van Waveren for Dutch Public Television from 1975. A Time Frame!

Tribal Dance I
Labyrinths 1974
Tribal Dance II
Labyrinths 1974

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