Press & Publications about Bernard von Hessberg


 Article released on 11 March 2014 in " Die Woche" (Australia's only German language newspaper)

Pavement Artist Bernard von Hessberg presents the "Last Supper" in Pitt Street

"In the past Aristocrats were paying for paintings, today Aristocrats themselves are painting" 

Sydney - At the age of 17 the desire for adventure took him and he moved to France. Not an easy undertaking without money in his pocket. So he bought some chalk and started to paint in the pedestrian zone in Lyon to make his living. "I taught myself", explains Bernard Reiner Wolfgang Freiherr von und zu Hessberg. First it was a little landscape, then a little Madonna - painted on the footpath and washed away by the next rain. 25 years later he impresses with a 2 x 5 m big Last Supper on the streets. Created on canvas and available for purchase.


The Artist born in Kronach near Nùrnberg, Germany today travels back and forth with his paintings between his domains of choice Torino in Italy and Sydney. Every so often he also spends some time with his family near Regensburg in Germany. That's where he started the "Last Supper" by Leonardo da Vinci which he is currently finishing and restoring in Pitt St. in Sydney. "The colour is a little faded by the wind and sometimes there are marks on the painting because pedestrians walked over it", says the pavement artist who is painting this painting for the second time already. "The Last Supper took me about 100 days. Michelangelo's "Creation of Man" from the Sistine Chapel on which he is working on as well in Sydney at this time, will take him approx. 50 days. 

Restoration of the Last Supper

The restoration of the "last Supper" will take more time than his other paintings, because it has suffered more. "There was a sudden rain without warning and about 100 drops left their traces", regrets the artist. Reliance on the weather is as well one of the reasons which keep him from going back to his home country very often. "Sun is very important for me". In Turin he already painted at 3° to 5° C but that was borderline says von Hessberg. "To sit still all day in the cold is bearable only with a glass of red wine" he adds laughing. He considers himself lucky that he hardly spends time in winter by traveling between Turin and Sydney. "I once managed to not see a winter for 5 years in a row. Before he goes on the street with a painting he prepares it at home for a few days.He stretches the canvas on a wooden frame and prepairs it with pommes powder, because it has to be rough for the pastel to stick to it. Then he sketches the details and creates the light and dark contrasts. Working with pastel because it allows the Pavement Artists to pack up the painting at any time. And for that, one has to be always ready, for example at a sudden downpour. In the tradition of Pavement Artists - which goes back to the Middle Ages - von Hessberg chooses Masters of the Renaissance. As well he comes from a 1300 year old family, "that sits well with painting old masters", jokes the artist. His ancestores have taken part in the crusades and even two Bishops in Wùrzburg and Bamberg have come from the von und zu Hessbergs, and artistic roots run in the blue blooded veins, too. His brother was also traveling as a Pavement Artist 30 years ago, including to Sydney.

The Secret of the "Da Vinci Code"

"I paint what I like but mostly what creates a good public response", explains von Hessberg about his choice of subjects. The "Last Supper" is especially appreciated by the people, even more since the Bestseller "The da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown, to which the Artist may have the answer to the famous mystery : Is the person next to Jesus Christ really a woman and there by Maria Madgalena ? "Leonardo has visibly painted the apostle with a lighter skin tone then the other 11 apostles", explains the Pavement Artist. As women used to be painted with lighter skin tones in the Renaissance it is very possible that it is a woman. 

Von Hessberg spends between 50 and 200 workdays on one painting. His biggest Artwork is "The School of Athens" by Raffael, which he created 5 years ago in Europe and Sydney. Some of his paintings are hanging by now in a museum near Zwickau in Germany, which will open soon. Also he decorated an elevator in a castle near Regensburg. For the future he hopes to get more commissions like that, because life on the street has changed in the last decades. "It is a dying out profession" regrets von Hessberg. It gets always harder to travel around and the generation today are too media oriented. On the other hand that process of extinction has the advantage that there is less competition for him : "In Regensburg I am the only official Pavement Painter for the past 15 years. Even in Sydney he stays unique.

He received some commissions from passer-bys. "Some people want a painting for their living room". As well churches and companies commission paintings from him. "Once the Aristocrats were paying for paintings, now the Aristocrats themselves are painting", comments von Hessberg. "What keeps this profession interesting is the freedom, I can travel a lot", he adds with a smile. In Italy his profession is even more appreciated. The Master Madonnaro (Pavement Painter) gets honored more in Italy then other countries. In Germany on the other hand it is more likely to see a mother with her child which asks her : "Is he actually allowed to do that ?" tells the artist laughing.

Learning to teach in self study

In the future  he would like to concentrate more on commission work and paint less on the street. For that he'll do a demonstration at the Sydney University Festival on 29.4 - 1.5. As well he has worked in Japan and America with Kurt Wenner the inventor of 3D Pavement Art. Together with him he also decorated a church near Como in Italy. In the future he could as well imagine to teach. But for that he still has a lot to learn, which he started already - again in self study.

Experience cultural differences

Cultural differences he has seen on his travels, says von Hessberg. In Italy and Germany there is probably more interest in Art. Nevertheless even Australia has already for several years an annually held Pavement Art Festival where about 20-30 artist come together : The "Chalk Urban Art Festival". Organized by Andi Mether, head of "Zest Events International". Two of the Australian artists are featured in the TV documentary "Chalk - An Australian Perspective" filmed mainly in Italy, in which von Hessberg also features and where he took part in the making and translating. The premiere of the film was end of last year in the Dendy Cinema, Circular Quay. In May it will be shown on Studio Foxtel and on the 30th September on SBS. "The documentary shows the Australian perspective of pavement painting very well", emphasises von Hessberg.



 Article released  May 2013 "Die Mittelbayrische" by TINO LEX, MZ

Das letzte Abendmahl in der Fußgängerzone

Bernardo von Hessberg malt derzeit in der Weiße-Lilien-Straße das berühmte Riesenwerk von Leonardo da Vinci nach.

Seit 45 Tagen arbeitet Bernardo Freiherr von und zu Hessberg an dem letzten Abendmahl. Vor Ostern wird es wohl nicht mehr vollendet.

 Foto: Lex       

REGENSBURG. Wer derzeit in der Fußgängerzone durch die Weiße Lilien Straße geht, wird von einem riesigen Kunstwerk überrascht: Passend zur Karwoche malt derzeit Bernardo von Hessberg das monumentale Werk, das „letzte Abendmahl“ von Leonardo da Vinci auf eine riesige Leinwand von gut fünf Metern Länge. „Das Original ist nochmals zwei Meter länger, aber da hätte ich gar keinen Platz gefunden“, sagt der Künstler, der aus der Nähe von Turin kommt. .

Straßenmalerei hat in Italien viel mehr Tradition wie in Deutschland. Hier gibt es nur sehr wenige, die das können und auch durchziehen. „Ich weiß von der Genehmigungsbehörde, dass ich einer der letzten Straßenmaler bin. Es ist ja auch nicht sehr lukrativ“, so der Künstler. Viel Geld landet nicht in den aufgestellten Dosen. Doch ab und an werfen die Passanten einige Münzen hinein, bleiben kurz stehen und bewundern die künstlerische Fähigkeit des Freiherrn.

Manchmal stellen die Menschen durchaus legitime Fragen wie: Kann man davon leben? Wie lange dauert es noch bis das gesamte Bild fertig ist? Was passiert mit dem Bild, wenn es fertiggestellt ist? Das weiß der Künstler selbst nicht: „Manchmal kaufen es mir Privatleute ab. Ich würde mich freuen, wenn es in einem edlen italienischen Lokal landen würde, aber bitte nicht in einer Pizzeria.“