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New work by Eugène Brands

The Olla Art collection has been enriched with ‘Palette Cosmique’ by Eugène Brands, a medium-sized gouache on cardboard from 1992. 

The work is monogrammed lower left (from around 1980 onwards Brands no longer signs his works in full, but suffices with his initials). The work is professionally framed and provided with a window on the back. This shows that Brands – as he always did – also signed, titled and dated (‘24.I.1992-3’) the work on the reverse, and provided it with an inventory number (‘9887’).

Jan des Bouvrie
The provenance of the work is special. The dedication ‘Voor Jan, 3 XII ’97’ can also be read on the reverse. Jan stands for the well-known Dutch interior designer Jan des Bouvrie (1942-2020), who apparently bought the work directly from Eugène Brands.
On October 19, 1999, Des Bouvrie’s collection was auctioned at Sotheby’s in Amsterdam; ‘Palette Cosmique’ also came under the hammer, as lot 26. The previous owner bought it there for 7,800 guilders.

Brands’ fascination with the cosmos is a common thread throughout his painting career. In the 1960s he discovers the coincidental abstract compositions of his palette. He sees this as an opportunity to give shape to the idea that ‘everything flows’ (panta rhei) (Dijkstra-van der Wel, 2014). Since then, the palette has been a recurring theme in his work.

Eugene Brands, Palette cosmique, 1992

Eugène Brands, Palette Cosmique, 1992
Gouache on cardboard, 44.5 x 54.8 cm

I don’t make a painting
Brands himself characterizes his painting manner as extremely intuitive and unacademic. Form and colour present themselves, as it were, naturally, and are created through improvisation. To art historian Erik Slagter he put it as follows: “In order to be able to paint, you need your eyes rather than linen and paint. ‘Seeing’ is the result of an extremely complicated process that is given to us from outside. One can arrogantly say: I see, but because we did not devise and make the equipment ourselves, I think: something enables me to see. That’s how it is with my paintings: I don’t make a painting, I just give it the opportunity to emerge. This improvisation, this following of brain waves, comes down to an experimental method. Averse to any preconceived methodical consideration, and apart from technical competence and other facets of painting to be learned or developed – this mindset can also be called ‘anti-academic’. For me, painting is a process of monitoring what happens on the canvas or paper as unconsciously as possible, shapes and colours that arise during painting, accentuating or weakening, a constant alteration, movement, change. It is indeed inherent to the ‘panta rhei’ of the ancient Greeks” (note by Erik Slagter, cited in Colpaert et al., 2001, p. 161).

For more information about ‘Palette Cosmique’ or for a viewing appointment, please contact us:, or call us.
More work by Eugène Brands and a short biography can be found here.
Also read our newsletters about Brands’ work: Eugène Brands: outshine in awkwardness (March 2021), Purple butterfly and White table by Brands (November 2022) (please note that ‘Purple butterfly’ is no longer available), and A pastry box and an oatmeal pack (February 2024).

Colpaart, A. (ed.), Wingen, E., Tegenbosch, L., & Welling, D. (2001). Eugène Brands. Schilderijen. Amsterdam: Stichting Eugène Brands.
Dijkstra-van der Wel, G. (2014). Eugène Brands. Mysterie van de Kosmos. Gouda: Arti Legi. (Publication accompanying the exhibition of the same name in Arti Legi, Gouda, 2 October to 2 November, 2014.)