At the start of 1914 Leo Gestel travelled to Mallorca. He portrayed the landscape of the island as a partly abstract whole of vividly coloured spaces of varying sizes. The entire surface of the painting is covered by a rhythmic repetition of triangular and square facets consisting of tiny paint strokes. The painting belongs to the very best of Gestels body of work and is very sought after by collectors. Increasingly, what started off as a personal processing of cubism in Paris became Gestel’s personal style. His cubism was directly derived from nature. He looked for basic forms in the landscape - squares, triangles and circles - which he used to construct his paintings.
Leendert Gestel (Leo is short for the nickname Leonardo given to him by his Amsterdam friends.) largely determined the face of Dutch modern art. Together with Jan Sluijters and Piet Mondriaan, he was the frontrunner of Dutch Modernism. By this term we mean the Dutch version of the then international avant-garde movements pointillism, fauvism, cubism and futurism. Gestel sought inspiration in each of these directions. In 1903, despite his father's opposition, he was able to call himself a free artist. By now he was living in Amsterdam, obtained his teaching certificate in drawing and had begun the evening course at the Rijksacademie at A. Allebé. His studio at 2nd Jan Steenstraat in Amsterdam became a meeting place for artists. His trips together with Jan Sluiters to cities like Paris, Antwerp and Brussels became of lasting influence on his work. In 1912, he settled in Bergen with his wife Ann. His work was bought early on by collectors J.F.S. Esser, Piet Boendermakers and Hélène Kröller - Muller. His great talent for drawing, in addition to his development as a painter, has always remained important, especially after the modernist period. However, the smoothly drawn pastels were also popular at the beginning of his career.