James Ensor Exhibition – Royal Academy

If you like your paintings offbeat, this is the exhibition for you.

Ensor’s family had a curiosity shop stocked with masks, costumes and oddities.  A childhood spent amongst such treasures has left an indelible mark.   A macabre sense of play and fun is at work here.  Satirical skeletons and grim gargoyles configure in busy townscapes.  Nothing is sugar-coated, entrails and flatulence emanate from the canvasses.  You can almost hear the gasps of late-19th Century Belgians viewing the work for the first time.

It’s an odd collection.  At times unpalatable but with spikes of humour which carry you through.  The paintings and drawings are truly unique, even by today’s standards.  One can easily imagine the shock they created over 100 years ago.

Curated by fellow Belgian artist, Luc Tuymans. Intrigue: James Ensor runs at the Royal Academy, London until 29th January 2017.  For more details click here —> Royal Academy website

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Skeletons Fighting Over a Pickled Herring, 1891

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Self-potrait with flowered hat, 1883

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The Artist Surrounded by Evil Spirits, 1898

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