As a young, self-taught artist, Brands was strongly influenced by surrealism. Like the surrealists, he wanted to convey that we shouldn’t think of anything around us as a given, as ‘normal’. Willem Sandberg, who would later become director of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, had already taken note of Brands’ innovative, experimental work. In 1946, at an exhibition there, Brands first met the later Cobra members Karel Appel, Corneille and Anton Rooskens. They became regular visitors to his studio. In 1948 Brands became a member of the Experimental Group in Holland, which they had founded and shortly afterwards merged into Cobra.