Istvan Bernath was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1953. Russians and the Hungarian communists occupied the country, and were tough on old aristocratic families.
His grandmother was a baroness, and her uncle, Szemere Miklos de genere Huba,had racehorses and wild card games that were legendary throughout European and American casinos. After he passed away, baroness’ family became the largest cash holders in Hungary, until the political changes started. The communists and the Russians separated Bernath’s grandmother from her fortune, which forced his father to work on the subway as a pressure worker until he got injured. Because of his ancestors Bernath also failed to achieve what he wanted in Hungary, although he received an international honor for his art when he was ten years of age.
Since the government owned all the galleries in Hungary at the time, they only accepted politically correct artists and their work. Bernath had to work in a ceramic factory during the day and paint during the night for a religious store. While working in decorative arts
in the European traditional style, Bernath came to an early appreciation of beauty and power of the human figure.
Bernath turned to wood and canvas, and studied the history of antiquities and the Middle Ages. Consequently Bernath’s paintings were allegorical, concealing philosophical or moral truths.
Bernath was already an accomplished figurative painter, when he got married, and left Hungary for the U.S. He started to explore the Art Deco style enjoying its logical and geometrical lines, and relative simplicity.
To emphasize functional design, Bernath used high lacquered wood resulting in playful and colorful figurative images, reflecting luxury, leisure and excitement.
His interpretation of the Art Deco style lead to a string of highly successful exhibitions within the United States. During this time, Merv Griffin’s hotel casino, in Atlantic City, needed a life size trompe l’oeil; Bernath got the commission. He became interested in mural painting, resulting in numerous commissions in the US and Europe, including Hotels, restaurants, and other public areas. His choice of medium then shifted from wood back to canvas, using oils and acrylics.
Bernath exercised his freedom to create the ever present figurative subject matter, realistic scenery and fairy tale / fantasy. His choice of style is one that is a universally appealing style, expressing exuberance and the love of life.
Bernath’s ability to create and experience a variety of styles enables him to convey his feelings and emotions. During this time, he became the artist of choice for collecting by “Hollywood”. Merv Griffin, Ed McMahon, Clint Eastwood are all on the list. Bernath gets involved with a variety of charities for a variety of causes. The Waldenwood Foundation through Dyansen Gallery is the charity for Eagle’s Don Hanley; Loyola Marymout is the charity of CEO Paula Mehan for Redken Laboratories. Bay Watch star Pamela Anderson’s restaurant is also on the list.
Las Vegas soon took notice, and Bernath was commissioned to create many of the public areas in the New York-New York hotel and the Show Boat hotel. Again, his versatility, understanding, interpretation, and application of style propel him to create outstanding works of art for everybody’s enjoyment.
In 1995, Bernath got his first commission to create highly imaginative pieces for, at the time, the world’s largest cruise ship Princess Cruises. With this, a new chapter began in Bernath’s life. He was able and was allowed to truly experience many different styles from Art Deco to Mannerism, the Pre-Raphaelite Style, Realism and so on.
The Bernath Collection on the Princess Cruise Ships consists of more than 800 large size originals. Each are painted on canvas and installed permanently on each ship for a specific location, creating a desirable ambiance.
He became the principal artist for Princess’s permanent collection part taking in the artistic creations of all their newly built eighteen ships. Today, to keep up with high demands in the U.S. and abroad, Bernath’s work is being published making it available for individual collectors and connoisseurs of art.