Saturday 16 October 2021

Erik Mattijssen / Josef Scharl

Josef Scharl 
oil on canvas

Josef Scharl 
Geschlachteter Hammel
oil on canvas



Every now and then it happens that you find yourself transfixed by work of a painter that you have never heard of. The pleasure of a new star in the firmament. That happened to me in Munich in the late 1990s, in an exhibition on the Neue Sachlichkeit with well-known names such as Otto Dix, Beckmann and Georg Grosz. 
It was a small painting of a man with a battered face, 'Blind Soldier', from 1928, a victim of the horrors of the First World War, painted by a man who knew those horrors all too well: Josef Scharl. 
Scharl's oeuvre (1896-1954) develops from mainly portraits in gloomy Germany between the world wars to abstracted, lighter colourful work that he made later in life, during his exile in the United States to which he travelled in 1935, on fleeing the Nazis. His early work shows that he loved Vincent van Gogh, but what he paints is the darkness of the interwar period, the corrupted power, the urban poor, and the impending doom and horror of the Third Reich. They are not the subjects that concern me in my work, far from it. But I know that one can especially like artists who do the opposite of what you make yourself. Maybe it's a dark side in me that I don't give much of a chance in my work. Matisse and Hockney, Vuillard and Zurbaran, Brusselmans and Hopper accompany me in a natural way. Yet I draw inspiration from Scharl's ruthless portraits, his bold doomsday, his theatrical scenes and his use of colour. It's very rare that you get the chance to see a painting by him in real life, unfortunately. It's about time for a big overview of Josef Scharl in the Netherlands.


Erik Mattijssen, 2021

Erik Mattijssen 
Donkey's years
150 x 200 cm
pastel and gouache on paper, wood, rope

collection Stedelijk Museum Schiedam 

Erik Mattijssen  
O Milagro
196 x 250 cm
pastel, gouache and pencil on paper, wood, rope

collection Museum Jan Cunen, Oss

Erik Mattijssen (NL)
80 x 70 cm
pencil and gouache on paper

collectie kunstenaar