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Nude on a Horse

Paul Burman Nude on a Horse Undated gouache, cardboard 24.5 × 34 cm

Paul Burman used to work fast and impulsively, sometimes he would finish a painting barely in a quarter of an hour. Despite that inclination his paintings were not always based on fresh impressions. There were several permeating topics in his oeuvre, and a number of paintings have been composed around certain recurrent motifs. This particular painting that turned up in the Netherlands conveys an almost mythological storyline: it combines nudes, nature and horses and speaks about a natural state of being and closeness to nature. It expresses a yearning for Elysian harmony unblemished by societal agreements and the alienation of the modernising world (some of the nudes even appear in elements of Native American clothing). Nudes and horses appeared quite early in Burman’s oeuvre, but in the first half of the 1920s he displayed a number of such works at various exhibitions. For example, his 1924 solo exhibition included works titled Amazon and Amazon-Scout. Whether Nude on a Horse could have been one of them will remain unanswered. Burman may have worked fast, but he was also thorough: cold green and bluish shades are structured by white spots of paint as well as brownish surfaces that reveal, in fact, the unpainted base material – cardboard. The verve and clarity of the colours is in peculiar contrast with the somewhat dreamy atmosphere of the painting.