- Category : Art-Fine-art-artist
- Type : GE
- Profile : 6/2 - Role Model / Hermit
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Confrontation 2
Dutch artist, a magical-realistic painter, who became internationally known through his paintings of the twelve signs of the zodiac. His artist name JohFra was a combination of his forenames Franciscus and Johannes.
He was the son of Franciscus Hubertus Bernardus van den Berg (4 April 1890, Roermond - 28 December 1977, Den Haag) and Jeanne Bosschart (3 March 1884, Rotterdam - 24 July 1968, Den Haag). In 1922 they moved from Rotterdam to Den Haag.
Frans, had red hair and was teased in the elementary school. He developed a harness against it and fled in fantasy, nature and drawing. His talent was noticed by his school master, who let him draw on the school board in the spare time. By drawing he regained his self respect. After leaving school, an uncle prepared him for the "Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten" at Den Haag. He entered at age 14 the part-time school and at age 15 the day school. Amongst his teachers were Paul Citroen and Ahrend Hendriks, but Leonardo da Vinci was his most inspiring genius.
On 24 September 1938 he started his diary. During the war he got a Nazi propaganda magazine in hands about "Entartete Kunst". It showed the work of Max Ernst, René Magritte, André Masson, Salvador Dalí and Giorgio de Chirico. He enjoyed it and decided to go on this way. His first (illegal) exposition was held in 1943, together with the work of his friend Hans Kroesen. On 1 March 1945 his family left their house, because the bombings by the Allied forces of the Haagse Bos, a launching place of V2 rockets, became to close. Their intuition proved right, as on 3 March 1945 their house and most of his work was destroyed by the Bombing of the Bezuidenhout. Some 550 people lost their lives and some 350 people were heavily wounded. Some 20,000 people became homeless, including Johfra. The loss of work was nor negatively interpreted by him in his memoirs. It allowed him to start again.
On 17 July 1945 he moved to the Willemstraat in Den Haag and started painting under the name Johfra. Early 1946 he met the paintress Thérèse Blomjous (1 April 1923, Den Haag - 3 October 1997, Den Haag), who used the artist name Diavola, but changed it to Diana. On her birthday, the relation became more intense. Diana worked as an au pair in Paris and summer 1946 Johfra visited her in Paris. In 1947 he met her again in Paris. They visited museums and went back to Den Haag to live together in the attick of his parents house. In 1948 they travelled to Italy, later to many other places, Diana typically being the initiator, Johfra being more introverted and home bound.
They married 21 March 1952 in Den Haag, they considered emigrating to the U.S., but stayed in Holland. On 20 March 1953 they became Rosicrucians, after meeting Lodge member Cor Damme of the Lectorium Rosicrucianum at Haarlem. From 1952 till 1962, the year he broke with Diana and the Rosicrucians, many symbols of this gnostic movement can be seen in his work.
Diana stimulated travelling: to Rosicrucians conferences, the caves of Lascaux (1954), Los Angeles and Cleveland (1956) and Brussel (1957). On 7 Augustus 1959 they met Salvador Dalí in the Mediterranean Sea island Port Lligat. Johfra was not impressed by the grandiose person and disliked the dry landscape.
In 1957 Diana introduced him to her friend Els de Jonge (16 March 1924, Utrecht), who later used the artist name Ellen Lórien. They became friends and in 1962 Jofra left Diana to go live with Ellen in Amsterdam. Diana resisted a separation and kept calling herself Diana Vandenberg even after the divorce in 1970. On 11 May 1973 Johfra married Els de Jonge.
In 1963 Johfra sold a lot of work to an American collector Greenberg. With that money they sold a piece of ground in Aspremont, South France. In 1964 they built a primitive cottage with dumped materials in Aspremont. Without gas and electrics, live was hard, but Johfra liked it and felt reborn. In 1969 they got a stone house. All the time, Johfra's had difficulty with selling his "frightening" traditional work in a time that conceptional and abstract painters were most popular, but Rosicrucian's regularly visited them and appreciated his work.
In 1972 he met art critic Hein Steehouwer, who coined the name meta-realist in news papers and books like "Zeven Meta-Realisten; Symboliek Bij Nederlandse Hedendaagse Schilders" (1974). In 1973 he got the commission for the Zodiac series that were published widely in posters and books: "Johfra en de zodiak: Symboliek van de dierenriem " (1975). He and Ellen had now an income that allowed them to buy the water mill "Le Moulin du Peuch", 24580 Fleurac, Dordogne.
Johfra's last painting was finished 31 May 1998. It was called "Thuisvaart" (The journey home). He suffered from intestinal cancer and prepared for the end. Before he died, he finished his autobiography "Symphonie fantastique" (1998). He died on November 6, 1998 in his water mill France, age 78.