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Wim Oepts; abstract yet figurative

Wim Oepts; abstract en toch figuratief - Lyklema Fine Art

Wim Oepts and the painters of the sunny South' can be seen in Museum JAN until mid-February 2023. Wim Oepts (Amsterdam 1904 - Paris 1988) is best known for his many abstracted colorful landscapes of the sun-drenched south of France full of contrasting colors around St. Tropez and the southern French fishing village of Collioure after the Second World War.

Wim Oepts - 1928 - Station in Uitgeest


At first he mainly made work, inspired by mentor Charley Toorop, in a dark neorealism. Toorop also encouraged the young Oepts to start working with oil paint and is a regular guest at her home in Bergen. Until about 1937 he mainly made dark-colored street scenes and cityscapes of his hometown Amsterdam.

Kust bij Coulliore

Visits to Paris brought Oepts into contact with much lighter painting styles around 1935. Under the influence of pure colorists such as Pierre Bonnard, Fauvist André Derain and his French teacher Othon Friesz, his art developed into an ode to color in France. "I am really inspired by the South, who discovers the magical Mediterranean light that makes the world tingle and shine with color," says the born and raised Amsterdam resident.

During the war he worked for the government in exile in London. In 1946 Oepts returns to France. In the summer he traveled after the sun, especially to Saint-Tropez. In the winter he developed his sketches into paintings. He leads a secluded life there, avoids publicity and has few contacts with the art trade or with other artists in Paris. He therefore earns little. In the Netherlands, abstraction is the name of the game in the 'official' art trade; work that is labeled as 'figurative' receives less attention. Oepts is therefore 'discovered' late.

wim oepts-1957-platanen_bij_cogolin-Kunsthal

The landscapes of the 'adult' Oepts are often immediately recognizable by the structure of the composition in contrasting planes and by the idiosyncratic use of color, as if they were woodcuts. The large areas with bright, often unrealistic colors are typical. Blue trees and green skies are not uncommon in Oepts and in later work he often uses black as a color. They are paintings with their own character.

The exhibition Wim Oepts and the painters of the sunny South in Museum JAN shows an extensive overview of the oeuvre of Oepts and contemporaries. His French period is central. Paintings by artists such as Dirk Filarski, Matthieu Wiegman, Charles Eyck and Otto B. de Kat and Nicolaas Wijnberg place Oepts' work in a broader perspective and show how unique Oepts' works remain to the French landscape.

Works by Oepts can also be found in the collections of, among others, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Centraal Museum Utrecht and the Kunstmuseum The Hague.

Wim Oepts Landschap 1979 Museum Jan 

Oepts in Singer La Grande Blue tentoonstelling; the road to St. Anna 1946

Oepts in Singer La Grande Blue tentoonstelling; the road to St. Anna 1946

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