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In 1914 Leo Gestel was still young, 32 years old, but had already an exciting career as an artist behind him. People began to take notice of his work, especially after 1911 when he was participating extensively in the internationally oriented exhibitions of the 'Modern Art Circle' in Amsterdam. In 1913 he was one of the artists who was invited to take part in the first German Autumn Salon in Berlin where modern art from all over Europe was being shown.

His private life was happy during those years. His studio in Amsterdam had become a meeting place for his circle of artistic friends. Gestel and his wife escaped from the city during summer to paint out of doors in Bergen, a small village near the coast to the north of Amsterdam. Sometimes they stayed there till far into the autumn as they found it hard to leave. During the summer of 1913 Gestel painted the countryside of Bergen in almost abstract compositions: landscapes and orchards in strictly simplified, rhythmically composed shapes and expressive colours.

This was the way in which he wanted to continue to work and it was for this reason that he looked for a location where he could work en plein air during the winter. When a collegue described the island of Majorca to him as a paradise on earth his mind was quickly made up. Together with two other artists, Else Berg and Mommie Schwartz, and his wife he left for the south at the beginning of January 1914.

On Majorca they lived in a house on a hill above the bay of Palma near El Terreno. From the front of the house they had a view of the bay below and from the back they could see the hills on the top of which were the remains of a castle. It was here that Gestel immediately developed a new way of painting the beauty of the landscape. The landscape was always his motive; figures are hardly ever included. The most striking feature of his new style was that he dissolved each motive into planes of every possible colour which he spread in one fluid rhythm across the canvas. One of the charms of Gestel's Majorca paintings is the interplay of reality and abstraction. The colours are purely imaginary and it is they that determine the forms. Where two planes touch each other a line is not formed but an acoord of colour. This gives to the whole scene a character of space and light.

Source: A.B. Loosjes-Terpstra, Leo Gestel 1881-1941, The Hague 1989

Details

  • Title: Mallorca, Terreno
  • Creator: Leo Gestel
  • Date Created: 1914
  • Location Created: El Terreno, Palma, Majorca, Spain
  • framing: Gilded wooden frame
  • Place Part Of: Palma, Majorca, Spain
  • Physical Dimensions: w775 x h589 cm (framed)
  • Type: paintings
  • Rights: Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, bequest 1960
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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