Years before the founding of Cobra, Rooskens was already an established painter who had several solo exhibitions. He was the eldest of the preceding group 'The Experimentalists' and the only one who had developed his own style prior to the event of Cobra. His war experiences and the impact of seeing ancestral effigies from New Guinea at an exhibition called 'Kunst in Vrijheid' (Art in Freedom) in 1945 convinced him that a complete new approach was called for. At the time he joins the Cobra group in 1948 he is 39 years old.
Creating spontaneously was, according to many Cobra painters, more important than the final result. This idea led to a free style of painting for Rooskens. He did not worry any longer whether one could recognize the motif, but paints vigorous forms during this period. He uses black and very bright colours, a combination that grants his art a dynamic character. In the present lot a deep red in the background is combined with bright yellow, green and black. The fluent and lively brushstrokes seem to be applied nearly automatically and more or less subconsciously. Over it he paints with strong lines a mysterious figure in dark orange.
Unlike his colleagues Appel and Brands, Rooskens was never inspired or influenced by children's drawings. Instead he worked with controlled spontaneity. He did use the child as a motive, but without associating it to childishness and naivety. His forms remain primitive emphasizing magic, like in the intriguing contrast between the black and red in the present lot.
In the very early 1950's, Rooskens renewed his contact with Karl-Otto Götz, an experimental German artist. Through him Rooskens became acquainted with art dealer Klaus Franck, who was running the first avantgarde gallery in post-war Germany. The gallery was situated in his home in Frankfurt am Main. Untitled was exhibited in this so called 'Zimmer Galerie' (Chamber gallery). This is where Rooskens met other German artists with whom he collaborates for Götz's magazine called 'Meta'.
Steef de Vries was the first owner of Untitled. De Vries was a dedicated art collector, who was especially interested in the abstract and experimental art of the early 1950's. He was one of the co-founders and board members of the VIA 'Vereniging voor Irrealisme en Abstractie in de beeldende kunst' (Association for Irrealism and Abstraction in the visual arts). This association tried to stimulate interest in modern and contemporary art. Next to that De Vries was one of the driving forces behind the Stedelijk Museum in Schiedam.
The Stedelijk Museum Schiedam has kindly requested the present lot on loan for their exhibition '60 jaar CoBrA: de kleur van vrijheid' from 13 September until 30 November 2008.