Nostalgia for the cozy-knit ease of the ‘90s tightened its grip on society several seasons ago, and just as Calvin Klein epitomized minimalist chic, Dutch painter Karel Appel captured the type of beauty that looks best messy. A series of abstract paintings he completed during the Clueless decade opened at Blum & Poe’s Los Angeles gallery last month, and closes on October 27. The works speak to embracing life as it comes, streaked with colors every bit as charming as Cher Horowitz’s mini skirt.
Appel and his contemporaries forged the avant-garde movement in the Netherlands during the post-WWII era. Many artists of the time leaned into their nightmarish memories of the great war and produced work that resembled battered, rotting flesh, but others – like Appel – strode in the opposite direction. He created exuberant sculptures depicting playfully colored fauna, and by the ‘90s he was known for whimsical paintings that captured all the spirited energy of a mob of flannel-clad skateboarders.
There’s something to be said for artists who live through terrible times, and choose to dwell on the pleasures of the present rather than the ravages of the past. That energy – that joy – is important now as ever, and this week, we choose to surround ourselves with artworks that evoke pleasure. We wholeheartedly recommend an Appel a day, starting with this crop.