This is Jan Nieuwenhuys

By Gwylym Owen

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Jan Nieuwenhuys (January 8, 1922 – December 28, 1986) was a Dutch painter and one of the early active founders of the Dutch Experimentalists group (Reflex) that highly developed became part of CoBrA.

Nieuwenhuys was born in Amsterdam.

Around the age of 14, Nieuwenhuys and his two-year older brother arranged to become painters. From 1938 to 1941 he attended the Rijksnormaalschool in Amsterdam. Later in the Second World War he in addition to took lessons at the Rijksacademie in Amsterdam. At the Rijksacademie he met Karel Appel and Corneille.

During World War II Nieuwenhuys painted as regards only clowns, nudes and couples making love. Just after the dogfight he started painting fantasy animals like argumentative cocks, cats and bulls. He and his brother Constant had many arguments more or less his paintings. During the case Constant himself painted solitary Catholic scenes like Pietà and Maria portraits or still lifes and thought that Nieuwenhuys chose his subjects too lightly.

In 1948 Appel, Elburg, Kouwenaar, Wolvekamp, Corneille, Constant Nieuwenhuys, Brands, Rooskens and Nieuwenhuys founded the Experimentele Groep in Holland that a few months well ahead became the European bureau CoBrA. Jan was in his paintings of this era influenced by dreams, children’s drawings, the artistic expressions of mentally handicapped people and primitive art. Animals such as flora and fauna and cats take effect a leading role in most of his works, along with astounding creatures and beings that are made up of a incorporation of human, animal and mechanical elements. A lot of the creatures balance upon a rope or wear boats as a hat.

Nieuwenhuys was soon disappointed in the members of the CoBrA group, some of them were more interested in fame than living thing an activist. He could not stand the clash that was going upon between the members and hence he left the group in the center of 1949. Some new members afterward left, but they far ahead rejoined for the great exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum.

In 1964 he said in an interview: “The intervention was not founded as an exposition help but as a society of activists. We wanted to put an effort into that, to fight against the softness in art at the mature and using our imagination to bend that. Regrettably I must ascertain that many of the Experimentalists of that morning also became esthetics. Everything certified stops to be combatant. I think that perform of some of them look very dormant these days”.

Nieuwenhuys progressive concentrated only upon his work. His paintings became more and more liberated and he experimented later different materials in the impression of fluorescent paint and all he could get his hands on. Everything could become a painting.

In an interview from 1964 he said: “I Begin with my material and my color. With that I expose myself. From the material I agree my subject and that is maybe adjacent to what painters did in earlier days. I paint the habit I write, the habit I laugh. That is why I paint differently all the time, because my moods change. That’s the way I feel.”

“As a painter I don’t desire to paint a particular situation. I am not abstract, not in plan of fact non-figurative. I attempt to be expressive and in view of that I need Definite images. Today I am in China, tomorrow in Paris, after tomorrow some other place. We are confronted every day considering what happens in the world. You’re living upon a specific spot, but afterward in the entire sum world. It’s maybe fittingly that we become correspondingly ignorant and hard, because we experience too much. Hunger, war. That particular business doesn’t mean all anymore.”

From the similar interview: “I wish, if they see my put on an act later on, that they can look the twentieth century. The performer must manage to pay for his times a suit. And it doesn’t matter if he is an architect, poet or painter. In abstract painting I miss the inflection of this time, the rudeness. We, the people of today we are living similar to the fright of an atom bomb. The abstracts are building lonesome a superficial world for you.”

He died in Amsterdam in 1986.

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