Eugène Brands, born in Amsterdam in 1913, is educated at the Handelsschool and Kunstnijverheidsschool in his birthplace. After working for several years as an advertising artist, he decided to start painting. In this he is self-taught. During the war period he experimented with, among other things, drip paintings that he calls 'cosmic art'. These expressions of imaginary constellations are surrealistic drawings in ink on paper, which arise as if by means of flow, blots and splashes. In 1946, during the 'Young Painters' exhibition in the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum, he attracted attention with his Lid of Heaven, a pan lid filled with white paint specks depicting a galaxy and handles in the shape of a rainbow. Karel Appel, Anton Rooskens and Corneille, impressed by Brands' playful artistic expression, ask him to join the Experimental Group REFLEX, which shortly afterwards merged into the CoBrA movement. What bound these painters was a strong desire for a free, spontaneous way of expression. After the notorious CoBrA exhibition in 1949, however, Brands decided to leave the group again. He is attracted to the undogmatic character of CoBrA, but tends more towards a solitary artistry. For the next ten years, he retired to his studio and drew his inspiration from the world of the child, inspired by the spontaneous drawings of his daughter Eugénie. He paints in a lyrical-abstract style with a woolly appearance, which is characteristic of his entire oeuvre. The performances, usually in oil or gouache on paper, radiate a fairytale atmosphere in which people, animals and things fly or float. A central theme is the mystery of the universe, which Brands depicts in a mysterious, cottony cloud of substance. In the 1950s he portrayed this with the brighter colors and black that are characteristic of CoBrA, in the 1960s, when he exchanged figuration for abstraction again, in transparent orange, white, yellow, bright green and light blue. The paint usually applies Brands thinly, in order to obtain the 'wool and cloudy' effect.
After his first solo exhibition 1939 in Amsterdam, Brands takes part in many national and international solo and group exhibitions, including those of Nieuwe Stromingen, Vrij Beelden, Creatie, Liga Nieuw Beelden and the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles in Paris. The group exhibition organized by Willem Sandberg in 1962 in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam ensures his ultimate breakthrough and makes him no longer dependent on the BKR scheme. From 1967 Brands teaches at the Royal Academy of Art in Den Bosch. The abstracted landscapes with 'cow spots' and cloud formations date from this period.
Brands lives and works in Amsterdam. From 1974 he moved into a summer residence in Nunspeet in the Hoge Veluwe, where he can paint on a large scale and because of the proximity of nature he feels even more connected to the mystery of the cosmos. In 1993 he decides to stop painting on canvas, which is becoming too physically demanding for him and he limits himself to gouaches on paper. In 1999 Brands exchanged his studio in Nunspeet for a studio in the south of France. Unfortunately, he can't enjoy it for long. He died on January 15, 2002, on the day of his 89th birthday.