CÉSAR DOMELA

(Amsterdam,1900 - Paris, 1992) From the synthetic cubism of his work in 1920, he soon passed to geometrical paintings composed according to horizontal and vertical coordinates of lines and planes. In 1924 in Paris he met Mondrian and Van Doesburg, joined the De Stijl group and adopted the fundamental principles of the new plasticism. In the next year, following the example of Van Doesburg, he adopted the diagonal as the generator of the synthesis of plane, volume and movement. In 1926 he exhibited with the "Societe Anonyme" group and went to live in Berlin, where he worked as a graphic artist in advertising and concerned himself with typography and photomontage. In 1929 his work became relatively independent of the group: he composed reliefs of various materials on wooden supports. Generally the support consisted of colored planes on which he applied the main lines of the composition consisting of orthogonal elements variously oriented in Plexiglas, brass and aluminum. From his growing interest in the culture of the Orient his work derived - rather than formal models or elements - the ideal and vaguely spiritualistic theme of a general harmony, superior to any emotion or sensation derived from reality. He joined the "Ring Neue Werbegestalter" founded by Kurt Schwitters, as did, amongst others, EI Lissitskij, MoholyNagy and Hans Richter. He also contributed to the De Stijl and Cercle et Carre magazines. In 1930 curves and spirals took the place of straight lines as generators of the rhythm of composition. He also extended the range of the materials of which he made use: woods, copper, leather steel, sharkskin and buckskin, whalebone, glass, plastics, parchment, etc. Each of these materials was used for its natural colors. De Stijl founded its constructions on the elementary colors but according to Domela the specific colors of animals or vegetables were also to be considered elementary colors. This gave the texture of the work a particular value: the surface ceased to be merely a support and became a structural element. In 1933 he moved with his family to Paris where he opened the first atelier of artistic silk-screen printing. His work was included in the "Cubism and Abstract Art" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1936. A book on his work, with a preface by Kandinsky, was published after the war and in 1947 he exhibited at the Denise Rene gallery in Paris. Retrospective exhibitions were held at Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Amsterdam, Düsseldorf, etc. Since 1955 the colored reliefs have sometimes become murals for the decoration of facades and entire buildings. In the 1970s he also dedicated himself to the analysis of color integrated in the surface, varied and mixed by means of the superimposition of transparent colored papers. In 1981 his work was included in the "Paris-Paris" exhibition at the Pompidou Center in Paris.

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1952 - 64x106cm - Refief nº37 - Metal relief on wood
Photo: Jaime Acioli