From 09 October 1987 to 29 November 1987
Curated by Rudi Fuchs and Johannes Gachnang
Karel Appel (Amsterdam, Holland, 1921 – Zurich, Switzerland, 2006) was one of the founders of the CoBrA group (along with the Danish painter Asger Jorn and the Belgian poet Christian Dotremont), an international art movement formed in the late 1940s that revisited Expressionism in the context of a Europe that was still recovering from the tragedy of the World War II.
Appel represented the imagination in a way that was both fresh and incisive, making art whose impact was reinforced by the sheer violence of the creative impulse. The artist held painting to be the most social of the expressive media, a mode of communicating new images of a familiar world or unusual visions of the unknown. He was interested in pure painting and in a way of looking at things that was innocent, developing his own ideas in a manner that was both spontaneous and concrete.
This exhibition presented work by Appel that spanned over 30 years, from the seminal pieces of the 1950s and 1960s to more recent ones created in the 1980s. His earlier works are characterised by a preoccupation with form consistent with the CoBrA movement, and also represent a dramatic reflection on the human condition following the destruction of civil values that had occurred during the World War II. Appel’s trademark pictorial eloquence and depth, combined with a natural instinct for fluid lines and a confident use of colour, are also present in the later works, which, while they continue to provide an in-depth, stimulating analysis of the contradictory nature of the human condition, seem to be imbued with a new sense of calm that makes them both serene and majestic.