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Abstract Composition

Elmar Kits Abstract Composition 1969 Tempera on cardboard 52.5 × 69.5 cm

In the second half of the 1960s, Elmar Kits arrived at abstractionism, which in his case was not always completely abstract, but mixed with an occasional realistic motif-fragment (such as the fragments of human faces in this picture). In the 1960s, Kits’s works came across as a political as well as art political statement. Barely a decade earlier, abstract art would have been unthinkable, because the official canon demanded rigorous realism. Since Elmar Kits was capable of working in various styles and had always been appreciated for his ideologically acceptable works, he had developed a notable reputation. Curiously enough, he decided to use that official acceptance as a protective shield under which to carry out experiments, because it allowed him – whether in his ventures into abstractionism or in any other experiments – to rely on broader support.  

This abstract composition was created a few years after Elmar Kits had first displayed abstract works at exhibitions in 1966. His role model was quite obvious: Pablo Picasso’s treatment of form with its abrupt rhythm and broken angles seems to have had quite an impact on him. In structuring his abstract compositions Kits often used the technique of leaving the edges of the painting monochrome, creating a kind of extra framing for the image in the centre of the picture. Nevertheless, as a representative of the Pallas Art School he primarily focused on colour: the alternation, fusion and convergence of light and dark or cold and warm shades fascinated Kits just as much in his abstract works as in his impressionist works.