press release

Kunsthal Rotterdam presents work by Dutch painter and graphic artist Willem Anthonie Oepts (1904-1988). Oepts is primarily renowned for the colourful landscape paintings he made in the South of France after 1945. The exhibition focuses on Oepts' artistic development. The works displayed are highly diverse, ranging from Social Realist works influenced by Charley Toorop from the beginning of his career to paintings made in the Thirties which show a clear fascination for artists like Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard. His sparkling late work, depicting French landscapes in rather loose and pastuous brushstrokes, is also broadly represented. Early work

Wim Oepts is an autodidact who initially worked as a graphic artist. In 1924 his artistic career made a great leap forwards after he had become acquainted with Charley Toorop who stimulated him to start painting. In the exhibition it becomes clear how he subsequently ventured upon painting and no longer restricted himself exclusively to graphic art after this encounter with Toorop. He held on to the Social Realist subjects which he also chose to portray in his graphic works and painted various manual labourers, all in shrouded colours. Toorop's influence is clearly visible in these works, especially in the specific way the characters are portrayed. In the Twenties Oepts earned himself a rightful place within the world of important Dutch artists and participated in exhibitions at, amongst others, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. The current exhibition at the Kunsthal shows just how much this early work differs from the paintings he made later on in his career and which brought him such great fame. France

‘In France I felt liberated', Oepts said. In 1933 he first visited Paris and later on he chose to live there permanently, right up to his death in 1988. He was introduced to the work of (Post)Impressionists and Fauvists and became particularly attracted to works of art by Bonnard, Matisse and Derain. When he got struck by the beauty of the southern light in the fishing-village called Collioure he decided to radically alter his art. Oepts started to use more colours and began to paint with far looser brush strokes. The subject of his paintings from then onwards were village- and harbour views. It is due to these modern-classic works, of which a large number are actually put on display at this exhibition, that Oepts has become so well-loved by a large audience. Heydays

From 1965 onwards Oepts' success increased with the years. His work has been collected by numerous private individuals both in the Netherlands and in France. In the Seventies the artist made his most famous works. His landscapes, composed of large areas of colour that sometimes contrast heavily, became more and more abstract. He also experimented a lot with complex compositions. At this time in his career top pieces like Landscape, South-France and Provence were created, causing Oepts to become indisputably famous as the master of Mediterranean light.

Wim Oepts
Paintings and Works on paper