Exposition Art Blog: Jan Nieuwenhuys - CoBrA - European avant-garde art movement in 20th century

Jan Nieuwenhuys - CoBrA - European avant-garde art movement in 20th century

"The Dutch painter Jan Nieuwenhuijs is probably the most mysterious artist of the European CoBrA movement. He was one of the early active founders of the Dutch ‘Experimentele groep’ that later became part of CoBrA.
He and his brother Constant had lots of arguments about his paintings. During the war Constant himself painted only, catholic scenes like piatas and Maria portraits or still lifeas and thought that Jan chose his subjects too lightly.
In 1948 Appel, Elburg, Kouwenaar, Wolvekamp, Corneille, Constant, Brands, Rooskens and Jan Nieuwenhuijs founded the ‘experimentele groep’ that a few months later became the European group CoBrA. Jan was in his paintings of this period influenced by dreams, childrenas drawings, the artistic expressions of mentally handicapped people and primitive art. Animals such as birds and cats play a leading role in most of his works, along with fantastic creatures and beings that are made up of a combination of human, animal and mechanical elements. A lot of the creatures balance on a rope or wear boats as a hat.an was soon disappointed in the members of the CoBrA group, some of them were more interested in fame than being an activist , he couldnat stand the fighting that was going on between the members and so he left the group in the middle of 1949, some other members also left but they joined again, for the great exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum...
Jan went his own way, desillusioned, and concentrated only on his work. His paintings became more and more liberated and he experimented with different materials like fluorescent paint and everything he could get his hands on. Everything could become a painting.In an interview from 1964 he says; a.I start with my material and my color. With that I express myself. From the material I come to my subject and that is maybe contrary to what painters did in earlier days. I paint the way I write, the way I laugh. Thatas why I paint differently all the time, because my moods change. Thatas the way I feel.As a painter I donat want to paint a particular situation. I am not abstract, not really non-figurative. I try to be expressive and therefore I need certain images. Today I am in China, tomorrow in Paris, after tomorrow some other place. We are confronted every day with what happens in the world. Youâ re living on a specific spot, but also in the whole world. Itâs maybe therefore that we become so ignorant and hard, because we experience too much. Hunger, war. That particular situation doesnat mean anything anymore.’(jannieuwenhuys.com)

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