‘Intrigue: James Ensor by Luc Tuymans’

23rd of November 2016

Luc Tuymans has selected our Squelette regardant chinoiseries for his exhibition on Ensor at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

For the first time in the history of the Royal Academy of Arts, the job of curating a monographic exhibition of an artist has been given to another artist. No-one but Luc Tuymans could provide such an invigorating look at the work of James Ensor.

The exhibition presents a stimulating selection of works that demonstrate Ensor’s endless imagination, humour and creativity. Notable for their theatricality, satire and macabre aspects, the paintings have all been chosen by Luc Tuymans, one of Belgium’s leading artists and a great admirer of Ostend-born Ensor. Luc Tuymans has selected works from between 1880 and 1890, one of Ensor’s most creative periods.

Among the works selected is “our” Squelette regardant chinoiseries (Skeleton looking at Chinoiseries), which Ensor painted in 1885. Entrusted to the Fine Arts Museum of Ghent, this painting was acquired by the King Baudouin Foundation’s Heritage Fund, at a public sale in the USA in 1995.

For the first time in fifty years, the work is once more being exhibited in London, alongside Squelette peintre (Painter skeleton) dating from 1895. The two paintings perfectly reflect Ensor’s fascination with the human skeleton placed in a perfectly ordinary setting. Squelette regardant des chinoiseries, however, also represents a turning point in Ensor’s career. Whilst still being part of the series he did of intimate but overcrowded bourgeois interiors that characterised his early work, here Ensor introduces a skeleton, a motif that would become recurrent in future work.

Practically all of the works exhibited in this exhibition come from private Belgian collections, strengthening still further the very concept of this event: a Belgian artist chosen to curate the work of a compatriot and co-religionist. A veritable must for those curious about the vision Luc Tuymans has regarding James Ensor’s work.

Practical information:
‘Intrigue: James Ensor by Luc Tuymans’
The Royal Academy of Arts, London
Until 29 January 2017
Saturday to Thursday: 10h to 18h; Fridays: 10h to 22h