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Colorful Leo Gestel

Leo Gestel - Lyklema Fine Art

Leendert Gestel (1841-1941) was an etcher, illustrator, wall painter, painter, watercolourist, draftsman, lithographer, designer, pastellist and had an impressionist, luminist (from 1910), fauvist and cubist period. He later developed his own style and became the most important exponent of the Bergen School. His almost cubist works from his time in Mallorca are currently seen as the most important.

Laren, 1910, Singer Laren
Lady with a sigaret, 1911, Singer


In 1904 he made a trip to Belgium and Paris with Jan Sluijters and was influenced by the Impressionists. After another trip to Paris he discovered Cubism. 'After the color decomposition during the first two phases, the shape decomposition follows'. His way of looking and painting ensured that he (subsequently) developed his own unique style within these international art movements. Together with Sluijters and Mondriaan, he is one of the most important modernists. Gestel's friends called Leendert Leonardo, after Leonardo da Vinci, abbreviated Leo. Gestel continued to use this nickname throughout his life.

Gladiolen, 1913
Gladiolen, 1913

In 1914, Leo Gestel, with his wife and (German) artist friends Else Bergh and Mommie Schwarz, traveled to Mallorca to paint. They rented a house on the bay near the village of Terreno and immediately fell in love with the colors of the island. On the island he found color and geometry in nature. He creates his most beautiful works in Mallorca, which can be seen in Museum Kranenburgh in 2022. In the first weeks Leo Gestel still paints quite realistically, but soon the work becomes more abstract with cubist geometric shapes in the rhythm of the landscape with the color of expressionism. He paints two large canvases a day in Mallorca.

Bestand:Leo Gestel Olijfgaard Mallorca 1914.jpg
Olive trees in Mallorca, 1914


From 1915 to 1922 he settled in Bergen, where he again focused more on nature. Gestel mainly painted landscapes and still lifes there too. This is also the period when he was a member of the Dutch Art Circle where he exhibited 25 of his works from Mallorca. During Bergen's time, his color palette developed more towards earthy tones with a lot of attention to light and dark in a broad brushstroke. This made Gestel the exponent of the Bergen School.

After his period in Bergen he traveled to Belgium and later worked in his studio in Blaricum, where his style moved more towards abstraction, without actually becoming abstract.

Gestel traveled to Bavaria and Italy and lived in Flanders for two years. Despite his many travels, he would never forget his birthplace Woerden. During family visits, the city and the surrounding countryside continued to inspire him. In the last period of his fruitful life he mainly painted horses and portraits with clear lines and contours.

Zelfportret, 1916
Selfportait 1916
Gestel was already successful during his lifetime, given the large number of works sold and more than 105 exhibitions during his lifetime. The first was at Arti Amicitiae in 1905 until, the last during his lifetime, in the Central Museum. In between he exhibited with the Moderne Kunstkring, De Hollandse Kunstkring and De Onhoudenen and at various Bienalles. Singer Laren had a posthumous retrospective exhibition in 1994 and you can now find works by Gestel in various Dutch museums, including the Gemeentemuseum, Singer, Stadsmuseum Woerden, Kröller Müller and the aforementioned Museum Kranenburgh.
Summer Flowers, 1913
In this work, small areas of color kaleidoscopically form the flowers


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