Charles Kvapil (1884-1958) was a Belgian artist who immersed himself in the Parisian art scene. Over the course of his productive career, he created a rich array of vibrant works and he’s primarily known as a figure painter.
Hailing from Antwerp, he studied at the City’s Academy where he was encouraged to study the old masters. The young Kvapil, worked tirelessly to copy 17th-century Flemish portraits - keen to hone his technique and draughtsmanship. At 24, he began exhibiting but found it tough to establish a regular income at a time when the avant-garde was burgeoning. It seems that he adopted a few styles during this early period including the philosophies of cubism and fauvism - but clearly he was keen to spread his wings and develop his own distinctive approach.
In 1920, at 36, he got the break he needed when exhibiting at the illustrious Salon des Indépendants in Paris. The exhibition was awash with talent including Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Georges Braque (1882-1963), Albert Gleizes (1881-1953), Fernand Léger (1881-1955) and Paul Signac (1863-1935). Kvapil was in good company and six works were shown, which increased his notoriety and provided a degree of financial stability. Critics referred to Kvapil’s “in-depth technical studies according to the masters” and “the opaque painting of Frans Hals, Rembrandt and Chardin”. His education provided the basis for a technically proficient body of works that layered on an expressive approach to colour. He worked in the tricky space between traditional formulas and modernist spirit.
Later in life, he moved to Montmartre where he spent the rest of his days. Oftentimes painting from outside his window with Montmartre hill in the background.
Today, Kvapil is considered to be an important member of the Paris School of painting and he exhibited in Paris, Munich, New York, Italy, Geneva, Stockholm, Brussels, and London. His works are housed in numerous public collections including the Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris.
Born in Antwerp.
Studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp.
Exhibited in Munich.
Exhibited at the Brussels Triennale.
Exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants.
Exhibited with Othon Friesz.
Began exhibiting at Galerie Bernstein.
Died in Paris.