Fred Bervoets was born in 1942 during the Second World War and grew up in the smoke of the factories in the harbor in Zwijndrecht and in the shadow of the church of Burcht. He followed courses at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and at the Higher Institute of Fine Arts there. His teachers were Antoon Marstboom, Rik Slabbinck, Julien Creytens and René De Coninck. He already enjoyed recognition during his studies, for example, he received the Laurent Meeus Prize (1961), the Camiel Huysmans Prize (1963) and was laureate of ‘300 years of the Academy’ (1964).
Bervoets’ work shows no homogeneity or continuity in the strict sense of the word. His work undergoes quite a few changes both thematically and stylistically. His oeuvre is therefore often divided into ‘series’. The period from 1964 to 1970 was characterized by influences from the Cobra movement, although the works always remain closely related to Bervoets’ world of life and ideas. From 1970, snakes and gut-like figures often appear in his works. They are the harbingers of the Spagettis – busy narratives in a psychedelic atmosphere on ever larger canvases. In the period 1972-1974 he abandoned this intensive working method and totems and cabinets came to the fore. In addition, he makes increasing use of the assembly technique, in which he combines, cuts and colors etchings and sticks them to the canvases, or fastens them with nails and string. In this period he mainly made use of grey, blue and green with red – aggressive – accents. This continues into a series of Grays (’75). In his works following this period, anger and grief at the loss of his paint brother Jan Cox in 1980 and the drama of Wounded Knee on February 27, 1973 are echoed in his works. In addition, he enlarges small anecdotal scribbles with the episcope and repaints them. In 1982 he exhibited at the KMSKA in Antwerp and a year later he received the Lobende Anerkennung from the jury of European graphics in Baden-Baden, after his participation in the 17th Biennale of São Paulo. He also illustrated work by the poet Marcel van Maele and as a painter-graphic artist Bervoets made several graphic editions (etchings, serigraphs, lithographs and posters) and graphic folders.
From 1987 his works are characterized by mutilated self-portraits and scars and his works become less narrative. They were often made in the darkness of the night with acrylic paint on unprepared canvases. That same year was also marked by the Nevada cycle, a series of impressions – often on brown wrapping paper or camouflage cloth – of his trip to the Mojave Desert and his visit there to Albert Szukalski. In 1991 he received the State Prize for Visual Arts and in 1994 he exhibited his work alongside that of Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) under the title A Museum in the making at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts in Scottsdale. In 2004 the Louis Paul Boon Prize was awarded to him. In 2007 he exhibited at the MUHKA in Antwerp and in 2009 a photo book about Bervoets was published by the photographer Dirk Vermeirre, in which he portrayed him in his daily life. own scenes. For example, he can be seen as a muscular Aboriginal, motorcyclist or in a painful constellation at the doctor. Well-known works from this period are Clocks for cannons (2002-’04), Welcome Home – The fish catch (2000), Out-of-home stay (2009) and The fall of Fred (2012). These can be seen in a permanent exhibition in Gallery De Zwarte Panter in Antwerp. In addition, he taught for a long time at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp; he was the teacher of, among others, Tom Liekens, Vaast Colson, Guy Donkers, Lieven Segers and Cindy Wright.