Thursday, February 5, 2009

Karel Appel: Phantom with Mask & "COBRA"

The central figure fixes his eyes and teeth on the viewer with a demonic expression. The paint is applied with characteristic force in thick, sweeping strokes, creating a 'harsh and brutal image- but there is also humour, and a childlike quality. Appel find the very act of applying paint a liberating, almost sensual experience. He delights in combining raw energy, expressed through slashes of wild colour, with savage, challenging subjects. The painting is a representative example of the work of the COBRA movement, which formed in 1948 by a group of artists from Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam. COBRA rejected the abstraction of post-war European painting, considering it lifeless and too passive. Instead, it turned to children's paintings and mythological tales for its inspiration. Appel now lives in New York, where he continues to paint exuberant, representative images in dazzlingly lurid colors.

Karel Appel, Phantom with Mask. 1952. Oil on canvas, h116 x w89. h45 3/4 x w35 in. Private Collection.

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