Oil on canvas 70.5 x 70.5 cm Framed. Signed 'W Ophey' (joined) in black lower right and additionally signed 'W Ophey' (joined) in pencil lower left. On the backside with the label of the Galerie Flechtheim on upper stretcher (numbered by hand "3113"), alongside with additional signature and title in black brush 'WOphey "Dorf" ' and titled in pencil (possibly rather by Frau Ophey) in old German script "Dörfchen", upper left with a handwritten note (probably by Frau Ophey) with the address of the artist. - With partial fine craqueleur, at places with very small losses of paint; minor professional retouches.
The present work was painted in 1920, at a time when Ophey was a leading member of the avant-garde group “Junges Rheinland”. Ophey had come into contact with Fauvist works during the legendary Sonderbund exhibition held in Cologne in 1912, and this inspired his approach towards a radical colour painting. He shared the Fauves' intense experience of colour, striving for expression, but in his works it took on a more reserved and subtle appearance. What Ophey began in his pastel drawings, he perfected in his paintings.
Ophey's constructive approach to composition and renouncement of centralised perspective meant that his painterly forms, rendered with great ease, are often perceived as being more abstract than objective. Thanks to the particular dynamism of the lines and the simplified, partially cubist forms, the architecture and landscape merge to form an impressive composition. The low set ball-like clouds and accompanying trees, which almost appear to bear human features, accentuate the solemn and stage-like effect.
The 43 x 52 cm coloured pastel drawing “Kirche mit Bäumen” made in 1920 depicts an identical motif (cf. Stefan Kraus, Walter Ophey. Leben und Werk, Cologne 1993, p. 158, illus.).
Kraus G 475
We would like to thank Stefan Kraus, Cologne for kind, additional information.
Pastor Hilbert, Waldbröl (received directly from the artist); gift to the previous owner; since then in family possession, Rhineland
Düsseldorf 1920 (Galerie Flechtheim), Walter Ophey, exhib. cat. no. 36 or 42 ("Dorf" or "Dörfchen") (with a gallery label verso).