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When on a fine night Anto Carte and Léon Eeckman were paying a visit to Louis Buisseret, they decided to draw the attention to the Walloon art and to support promising young artists from the province of Hainault. Originated from the enthusiasm of two renowned "senior" artists, Nervia needed an organiser, a director: this was Léon Eeckman. The first event took place in 1928; Léon Devos was the main exhibitor. Anto Carte, Louis Buisseret , Léon Navez and Taf Wallet were also present.

As from 1929 the Group had six, later on eight founding members. The long list of exhibitions clearly proves that the Nervia Group really is very active. From the start people like Jules Destrée or Paul Emile Jansson showed great interest in the movement and offered their support.

Anto Carte designed in 1931 the logotype of the Group. It figures on stationary and invitations. Richard Dupierreux was one of the art critics showing interest in the Group. He opened the exhibition of Brussels in 1933. At the triennial salon of Ghent in that same year, "Nervia" succeeded in stepping in the limelight of the Belgian artistic world: the works were arranged per movement, per circle. The School of Mons attracted attention because of the high quality and coherence of its works.

Then there was need of a break after a continuous succession of exhibitions. In 1936 the exhibitions were resumed. The exhibition of Verviers proudly states in its catalogue the various awards obtained by the "Nervians". In 1938 the participation in the Walloon Congress closed the Group's activities.

Some recent exhibitions prove the brilliant evolution of each member of the Group.
The Nervia Group is sometime referred to as the "School of Mons". This is due to the fact that its members were admirers or pupils of the two promoters, which were professors at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Mons. They are no servile or eclectic disciples, but friends, one family. A special concurrence of careers brought them together. The exhibition of 1911 in Charleroi did dedicate four rooms to the etching school of Danse, Greuze, Duriau. Buisseret, Carte, Moitroux, Regnard did continue the tradition of this beautiful pictorial art. It is in this privileged atmosphere that learning the art of painting is long and full of experiences: studies at many academies, artisanal works and when possible, a trip to Italy. To realize this supreme stage, awards and scholarships were very much in demand. It is along these different paths that the "Nervians" meet.

The generosity of Buisseret and Carte showed in a very promising environment, which of course does not affect their merit and intuition
They clearly had an influence on their friends and the word traditionalism is used because Anto Carte remembered the lessons of Van de Woestyne and because Louis Buisseret looked at Quattrocento. The "Group" fits in the general evolution of its century: the expressionist and constructivist modules have an indelible impact. The Group is however often labelled as a denial of the "avant-garde at all costs", of the violent revendication, which caused Richard Dupierreux (Léon Navez, Monographie de l'Etat, 1950, p.8) to say: " I would not say that there was a kind of neo-humanism opposed to the expressionism of Sint-Maartens-Latem ... ". The word here is "neo-humanism". The artist wants to communicate his emotion or his happiness about the spectacle of life. It has to be noted that the serenity of families often was a source of inspiration for quite a lot of "Nervia" paintings. When comparing them to the expressionist school, we can say that the Nervians preferred the chant to the cry, the intelligence to the instinct. A certain idealism contains their lyricism.

Paul Caso, in his book on Taf Wallet (1977, edition Arts et Voyage, p.30) aptly summarizes the "Nervia" ambiance: "a discerning graphic image, an indisputable chromatic richness, a poetic aura, sometimes serious, sometimes happy, in short a consoling beauty projected with the ever savant resources of the art ". The mutual connection of the works can be read from the plans, which are articulated according to geometric schemes, from the subtle nuances and the ever balanced lay-out. It is a fact that the painters who staid in the studios of Montald and Carte have gained a feeling for decorative compositions. They did make quite a number of applied artworks. This was not their greatest merit, but these disciplines had an impact on them, they acquired an undeniable rhythm and severity.

In a " Nervia " salon there are numerous interferences and poetic analogies. There is an atmosphere of confidence: the pure contours of the "Mater Beata" by Buisseret and of the "Toilette" by Navez. There is calligraphy, there are the little manifest gamuts of the "Maternité " by Strebelle and of the "Garde-manger " by Wallet. The love for the graphic image is also noticeable in the works of Devos where a fine arabesque confines the gourmand paint. On the other hand the popular cubist models can be found in more than one work of the Group, in particular in the works of Carte and Depooter. To all these style elements, juxtaposed, a melancholic or serene touch is added. Paulus, the expressionist one, exalts work and therefore he belongs to the idealistic current within the movement.

We have to beware not to enclose "Nervia" in the "secular" tradition of the "Latin" Walloon region. Roger de le Pasture is a master of expressionism and a master of the arabesque. The sense of measures does not smother passion. Let us put it like this: at a happy moment the School of Mons had a number of painters with a similar training and an incredible talent, which decided to support each other's projects. That is how a strong stylistic and mental affinity was created. In a progressive evolution every personality had the chance to develop and to prove himself. The originality of each artist sufficiently proves that the "Nervians" were no simple followers, but that they were worthy artists, with an occult frankness, who chose to fully develop their skills without paying attention to trends. (Josée Mambour (Nervia, Mons, 1978).




For more information please go to the site of the Foundation Léon Eeckman.