BRAM VAN VELDE Untitled (Paris, rue des Grands-Augustins) 1961
ram van Velde’s work is distinguished by a profound sensitivity and a singular approach to abstraction. This Dutch painter, born at the very end of the 19th century into a family of modest means, suffered deeply after his father failed in business and abandoned his family. This difficult period permanently marked the inner man who, many years later, wrote to his friend Samuel Beckett (and he was the first to recognize his talent and defend his works): ”I was looking again at the green and red painting, and I ask you, where was this painting born – in that corner of misery in Montrouge or in just any corner of misery?” Encouraged by the Dutch collector and benefactor Eduard Karmers, the young Bram traveled and discovered Matisse and Picasso. After moving to Paris around 1923, he found his own artistic language, which he used more and more from 1939 on. His intense formal dynamics, unique in the art of the second half of the 20th century, reveal a despair that emanates like a secret admission; ”I’ve always been afraid of showing what I have inside...” he said in a documentary made by Jean-Michel Meurice in 1967. That admission says more about his philosophy than his biography, with its echo of existentialism and the absurd, which appeared in literature during the Second World War. Bram van Velde was, in fact, one of the rare artists who expressed this important philosophic moment in painting. ”I paint the impossibility of painting”, he claimed. But it took a very long time for the true value of his work to be recognized. He was 50 years old before he had his first solo show, held in Paris in 1946 at Marcel Michaud’s Mai gallery, with 25 paintings.
Factsheet on page 34