1 op voorraad
Uitgave ter gelegenheid van de tentoonstelling gehouden in het Museum Schiedam oktober/november 1988
Afmeting: 24,50 x 27,50 cm
ISBN: 90-12-05900-3 / 9012059003
Conditie: in nette staat, losse omslag vertoont wat kleine beschadigingen
Eugene Brands was born on January 15, 1913.
Today he is a slight but wiry figure with a decidedly youthful aura.
He enjoys talking about his own philosophy, and about the mystery of life.
Eugene Brands is fond of saying that his conviction that every human being is unique is borne out by the human fingerprint.
Each one of us has his own unique set of fingerprints, and for Eugene Brands the mysterious labyrinth of the fingerprint is the tangible proof of the mystery of life.
His painting Mystery, base of universe is the expression of that conviction.
The reverse of the painting bears his characteristic flowing signature, a dot and a fingerprint.
Eugene Brands has been painting this mystery for fifty years.
For him it is all part of the ‘panta rei’ of the ancient Greeks: all is flowing and must be so. He traces
the labyrinth of the fingerprint back to the spiral, in primitive cultures the symbol of life.
Later this symbol, but then in the form of a snake, is used as a logo by Cobra artists.
Eugene Brands does not believe in coincidences.
He is a born experimenter, an explorer.
At the age of twenty-five Eugene Brands sees an international exhibition of abstract art at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
He knows then that he is destined to become an experimental artist, and that it is this which will give meaning to his life.
He pronounces himself an “autodidact on principle”, and creates his first abstract works.
On his walks along the beach at Zandvoort he picks up objects and takes them home with him.
He carefully arranges them to form a still life and then sketches them, meticulously and painstakingly. Some of his beach finds are incorporated into objects, along with odds and ends from his mother’s sewing box and what he can find up in the attic.
He also makes photomontages.
The surrealistic objects themselves have been lost, but an old photo album gives us some idea of what they were like.
Eugene Brands the surrealist is an excentric individualist, a loner whose contact with other artists is limited
When the war ends (1945) Brand is living in Amsterdam and doing surrealistic sketches in charcoal.
There are drawings with magic symbols, and the first of his Panta Rei series.
His first experiment with Indian ink results in abstractions made up of splashes and spots which he calls ‘cosmic art’.
Occasionally figures emerge, while the gouache Doorkijk (Window frame) bears an improvised text which foreshadows the expressionism of Cobra.
Drawings with keys and locks symbolize his faith in the mystery which he sees everywhere, even in the
most banal of objects.
He paints over a conventional little portrait to produce a “modification”, a term which Asger Jorn was to employ some years later.
A doll, the claw of a crab and a key form the subject matter of De sleuteldrager (The keybearer).
A blue pan lid picked up from the street is spatter-painted with white bicycle paint and becomes Deksel des hemels (Lid of heaven).
The latter two objects cause something of a sensation when they are shown at the Stedelijk Museum in 1946, during the exhibition “10 Young Artists”.
Eugene Brands meets Karel Appel, Corneille and Anton Rooskens, who are enthusiastic about his experiments.
They ask him to join the group, they are in the process of forming.
Eugene Brands has little faith in groups, but after some hesitation he does join the Experimentele Groep Holland, formed in 1948 and later incorporated into the International Cobra movement.
The founding members Karel Appel, Constant, Corneille, Christiaan Dotremont, Joseph Noiret and Asger Jorn
proclaim the birth of Cobra on November 8 in Paris.
The name is taken from the first letters of the cities where the Experimentals are active: Copenhagen
Brussels and Amsterdam.
The name Cobra also reflects the aggressive quality inherent in the kind of art which rebels against bourgeois society
Eugene Brands writes articles for Reflex, the review of the Experimentele Groep.
He is also influential in obtaining for them an exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum which is also open to like-minded colleagues from abroad.
Aldo van Eyck, charged with the organization of the exhibition, finds it no easy task.
The exhibitors are quarrelsome and difficult.
Eugene Brands arranges his own work and like Appel and Constant, he decides on a large mural, which is inspired by his painting Neergeschreven drift (Recorded anger)
The exhibition opens on November 3 to the accompaniment of jungle drums. courtesy of Eugene Brands, who collects recordings of authentic ethnic music.
It is the high point of Cobra, but it also signals the demise of the ‘tail’ of Cobra, as Eugene
Brands, Rooskens and Wolvecamp refer to themselves.
Appel, Constant and Corneille, who form the “head”, set off for Denmark to collaborate on a series
is flirtation with Cobra has left few visible traces on the work of Eugene Brands.
The paintings he does as an Experimental are poetic abstractions with Dadaist overtones.
His abstract fantasies, some of which betray the influence of Miró and Klee, have a kind of lyrical expressiveness, as in Victory Borfimah , which depicts the magical powers of the medicine man.
A “borfimah’ is the pouch used by medicine men, while ‘Victory’ is a reference to Mondriaan’s Victory Boogie-Woogie and to geometric abstraction, which the Experimentals reject.
Constant has already made that abundantly clear, saying, “A painting is not a construction of colours and lines, but an animal, a night, a scream, a human being or all of these at the same time”
In his manifesto, which appeared in Reflex, Constant advocates a new form of folk art.
This is an idea which has Eugene Brands’ wholehearted support, and he publishes his own articles on authentic folk music.
Certain of Eugene Brands’ works, such as Guitarra flamenco and Day butterflies and night moths, embody this authentic folk element, as do a number of assemblages which also reflect his poetic view of reality. Small black moon, a kind of self-portrait, intrigues Appel.
It is a relief which represents that balance between emotion and understanding which Eugene Brands has always strived for.
Zomer, with its orange-and-white symbol of the summers of his childhood, is characteristic of his optimistic outlook on life.
Eugene Brands’ reliefs, reminiscent of Schwitters’ Merz constructions, occupy a special place in his
Following the stimulating but disappointing Cobra adventure, Brands retires to the seclusion of studio and family.
This marks the beginning of his “magical activities”, which will span some ten years.
During this period he develops a form of expressionistic figuration reminiscent of the imaginative world of the child, where anything is possible and elves are as natural as demons.
The magical paintings of Brands, whose interst in this fantasy world was awakened by his four-year-old daughter Eugénie, evoke an atmosphere which is melancholic, wistful and at times frightening
His ‘magic of the nursery ‘ is in effect a continuation of the spontaneous creative urge which gripped him at the time of his Cobra adventure.
Klee has a powerful influence on his work at this time.
Shortly afterwards he encounters the fairy-tale world of Chagall, and his child-like perceptions gradually take on the character of surrealistic daydreams.
In the end this leads him back to abstraction, and to his journey through the universe, in a spaceship he calls ‘Panta Rei’
During the sixties he returns to the theme of the cosmos, and paints Kosmische ruimten (Cosmic spaces). The spatial painting which Brands develops at this time is based on the free expressionism of the sixties, which he describes as ‘a heightened, ecstatic poetic sensation.’
There are also new assemblages, such as Melkweg 10 (Milky way 10) and De fijne fietstocht (The pleasant cycling trip), and a new series of abstractions drawn from nature.
It is the beginning of a lyrical abstraction which reflects the ‘panta rei philosophy.
The characteristic landscape of Holland, with its placid pastures and grazing cows, presents itself by chance.
Staring out of a train window one day, Brands is struck by the fact that cows are like black-and-white abstractions in the landscape.
He sees that each cow has its own pattern of markings, an identity of its own.
He starts painting abstract ‘landscapes’ under dynamic skies full of scudding clouds, a development which culminates in the late seventies in a new form of ‘cosmic painting’.
The concept “all is flowing” provides him with the cosmic palette within a poetic spectrum, out of which here and there a shape emerges to frame and capture the wisps of vapourous colour
Colour cannot be recorded without form, says Brands, who still prefers colour.
“Colour appeals almost exclusively to intuitive emotion, while form appeals more to reasoned judgement.” His painting Sensitive table is one of the high points of his art in the eighties.
Colour and form, emotion and understanding are so perfectly balanced that Brands concludes that “everything has already been said”, and that he could really “stop painting right now.’