Anton Rooskens, “Nachtvogels (Night Birds)”, 1949, Oil on Canvas, 100 x 70 cm, Private Collection
Anton Rooskens attended the Technical School in Venlo, southeastern Netherlands, in the years 1924-1934. He moved to Amsterdam in 1935. As a painter Rooskens was an autodidact. In the 1930s he painted mainly landscapes, influenced by the paintings of van Gogh.
In 1945 Rooskens visited the exhibition “Kunst in Vrijheid (Art in Freedom)” in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It was at the “Art in Freedom” exhibition that Rooskens first saw African sculptures. The simplified shapes and figures inspired his work visibly in the years after the war. He was also influenced by the early avant-garde Cubist art movement.
Since 1946 Anton Rooskens frequently had contact with the painters Appel, Corneille and Brands; later, in 1948 he met the Dutch painter Constant Nieuwenhuys. This group of artists founded “The Experimental Group” which later became part of the CoBrA movement, a short-lived but highly influential artist collective in Paris. Its approximately thirty members became known for their vigorously spontaneous, rebellious style of painting, using loose, gestural marks and strong colors.
Rooskens created his own language of magical signs in black, yellow, ocher, blue and red. He painted compositions where masks and shields are tangled in coloured surfaces and lines. The imaginary creatures that remind us of the CoBrA movement became important in Rooskens’ paintings until his death in 1976.