He has been brought up in Brussels, a unique melting pot of two cultures (Latin and Germanic). He was the son and pupil of the expressionist painter, Louis Pevernagie (1904–1970). The artist spent his youth at the foot of the legendary Manneken Pis, symbol of this bilingual town. He has been infused by a lively, surrealistic world, as it has been described by Michel de Ghelderode. After expanding his knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon and Germanic cultural heritage, he became Master in Germanic Philology at the Free University of Brussels (1961). He traveled worldwide, took a postgraduate degree at Cambridge University (UK) and became a Professor at Erasmus University. As he has always been interested in communication and international relations, he founded a social and cultural club in 1973: 'Recreative International Centre” or “RIC”. For that purpose he acquired two boats in Brussels Port: “Ric’s River Boat” and “Ric’s Art Boat”. This gave him the opportunity to meet interesting characters, like Claude Lelouche, Atom Egoyan, Roy Lichtenstein, Hugo Claus etc. He became a Member and Associated Academician of Accademia Internazionale del Verbano di Lettere, Arti, Scienze.
The creation of his work is at the same time plastic and literary. Words, titles, sentences, graffiti are extensions and elucidations of the visual effect. The artist gets his inspiration from several aspects of the social fabric. Communication and in-communication are recurring central themes in his work. Themes like alienation, seclusion, unrest, insecurity are often starting points for his visual production. Pevernagie sees painting as a semiotic experience.
”Details” and small items of life, which enclose us and which form the structure, through which we comprehend the world, build the cornerstones of his work. Repeatedly events from our collective memory are translated into his paintings. His artistic approach consists in hiding the subject in a singular environment.
His work is practically unclassifiable, as various currents seem to culminate in it. Characters are integrated in their environment by means of geometric lines and compositional planes. Figuration and abstractionism are forced to a compromise and highlight a wide range of emotions and reflections.
The material on the canvas and the color process play an essential role. The use of sand and metal filings, which gives his paintings their special texture, is in this respect illuminating. Representative is his dialectical approach towards “presence” and “absence”, which adds to the creation of tension that he wants to bring about visually and mentally. In his mind “non-painted” and “painted” matter are to be evaluated on an equal level.
“Erik Pevernagie is primarily known for combining both figurative and abstract elements in his works. Starting with a simple geometric sketch or "graffiti", he builds the surface with materials such as ashes, sand or metal chips.” (Doyle New York)
“‘Man’ stands in the heart of his work: man integrated in his natural environment, sometimes even absorbed by it. On the other hand, he seems to deny it, as Pevernagie introduces graffiti in his paintings. So doing he gives evidence of the solitude of the human being, his alienation in the urban texture.” (Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Paris)
"Bridging the gaps between generations, social strata and nationalities is a tricky business. However Erik Pevernagie may have hit upon a workable formula to ease the alienation. " (International Herald Tribune)
"By denying any physical presence of the character and leaving simply dress evidence, the artist gives us a reproduction of the ground zero of the mind. His anti-hero has decided to make tabula rasa and get rid of all acquired alleged qualities." (Christie's, New York, Catalogue)
“His message, like a light beam across the fog of the human condition, calls our attention to the fragment, to help us to explore the universe. The detail is chosen as the starting point of the possible knowledge, deepening our perception and conscience. Pevernagie offers us the first pieces of a puzzle we have to assemble. He freezes the moment as a password to disclose the eternity. His philosophical approach of the “essence” is further materialized by the choice of the technical parameters: the flatness of the perspective, the geometrical shapes, the narrow chromatic range, the use of material elements such as sand and metal files...somehow recalling the Egyptian art, an art based on the language of icons and symbols, to explore and explain the mystery.” (R.Puvia, London)
"Belgian artist, who adds geometrical colour surfaces in his work to characters or architectural spaces. In addition he uses material on his canvasses such as sand and metal chips, which grant to his pictures their special surface texture and which seem to submerge the separate entities into a refined moderate colouredness through the reflection of the light." (Ketterer, Hamburg)
"The human being who is present in all his work is reduced to a congruent portion. Some pale traits, bodies blend into the canvas leaving space to accessories, highlighted by the artist in a more figurative manner. The material is omnipresent in Erik Pevernagie's paintings and give to his work all the intensity of the messages he tries to transmit. Metal, aluminium, sand. The ruggedness of his canvasses is perfectly in tune with the long vanishing lines and the sharp angles of his paintings." (M. Ladaveze)
"Typical exponent of the contemporary artist who combines abstract and figurative elements in his work. He starts from an idea and expresses that idea in a plastic way. Thus he depicts a world which has become confused and insecure and asks questions which can be interpreted by the spectator.” (Paul Piron, Brussels)
"Mixes figuration and abstraction with a poetic and philosophical key. Important are the framing, the intersections, the balance of the surfaces. Introduces extraneaous substances (ashes, sand, grit etc) which gives an aspect of strangeness and ruggedness as if he leaves traces of the past." (Arto)
"Always listening to the world around him Erik Pevernagie grants to our fellow man a dominating place in his paintings. The individual is replaced in his environment, which is sometimes evoked by graffiti, and seems to be absorbed, dissolved by the elements surrounding him. The subtle touches of color, the half-abstract, half-figurative shapes, and the specific framing lead to the dissolution of the individual whose life seems to be but superficiality. Pevernagie invites us to go beyond the superficial barriers in order to discover the mystery behind his characters who are in perpetual tension as if they were waiting for something else, for another life." (LeVif/l'Express)
"Always starting from an event of the collective memory Pevernagie paints a very insecure world in his very particular way. Half figurative, half abstract he mixes elements of earth, sand, metal cuttings on his canvas in sober beige, grey, velvet red tones. He starts with a simple graffiti, a sketch of a person or a detail from daily life. These are used as a pretext for a network of pure and well structured geometrical lines covering the whole surface of the canvas in order to bring about emotion. The titles are like twinklings in the eye.They are to be interpreted as one feels it. In the first degree or in the second degree. Astonishing in this work is the message that is brought to life. The artist asks questions. Life is seen by Pevernagie in different ways and painting is a way to express them. The paint brush is a means of evasion and the color a gate to reflexion." (Rey-Berthot)
"The figures of Erik Pevernagie are absorbed, integrated in their environment by the color, the lines and by the" idea",which is most important in his work. He starts from an idea and then he paints it. With him we find the problems which keep him busy, which haunt us and which he depicts. He paints the alienation, the loneliness, the unrest, the uncertainty. Erik Pevernagie paints for a generation. Our world has been decomposed, fallen into pieces, become uncertain and unseizable. But art and poetry are ultimate recourses. Erik Pevernagie's work is a thrilling work. With him we enter a totally different universe than the recognizable and readable reality. It's a universe we can interpret.In his art questions are put. He has a vision on man and the world. This artist is captivating by his topics and by the way he is painting them. He brings about a change in our way of looking at the world. " (Professor W. Toebosch)
"For me it’s even more the shape that one perceives than the idea of the painter which astonishes and alienates me. The painter obviously starts from a situation in everyday life. The shape, the structure impose themselves and create some disturbance. The canvas is almost empty. No cumbersome details. No technical tricks. I understand that it’s the ” details ”, the small objects of the life which surround us and which form the framework through which we perceive the world, which stimulate and encourage the thought. These are the objects which often replace the interior world with many people." (L. Krasnova)