James Ensor (1860–1945). Prints and Paintings

12.06.2002 - 25.07.2002

James Ensor – a famous and controversial figure, a precursor of Symbolism and Expressionism. His artistic interests revolved around the printing techniques, while the works were permeated with a number of diverse motifs. Skeletons, demons, obscure figures in masks, gloomy creatures – such and other figures populate Ensor’s art. The blasphemous images stand in contrast to the poetic mood and allure of seascapes from Ostenda – the place of Ensor’s birth. The International Cultural Centre presentation of Ensor’s prints was the first of its scope in Poland. The exhibition was further fleshed out with oil paintings and drawings from the private collections, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp and the collection of the KBC Bank in Brussels.
Krakow exhibition is a hit (…). Its design is clear and discreetly decorative. The authors (…) deserve all kinds of praise. (…) Suggestiveness of Ensor’s vision does not allow anybody to remain indifferent, while the magic of his name lures the visitors – it’s been quite some time since the International Cultural Centre drew such huge audiences. [City Magazine, August 2002]

Marcel van Jole

He is a Belgian art critic and curator as well as a founder of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Antwerp (Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen [MUKLHA]). From 1981 to 1986 he served as a head of the Department of Arts in the Belgian Ministry of Culture. He is an active member of Europa Nostra. He has authored numerous monographs devoted to various artists, including Pol Mara, Rallé, Guy Vandenbranden, Walter Brems, and Pinchas Shaar. He was the author of two exhibitions (featuring the works of James Ensor and Frans Masareel) that were on view at the International Cultural Centre Gallery.

James Ensor 1860-1949. Prints and paintings

Collective work

Ensor, the trailblazer of symbolism and expressionism, one of the most eminent artists of the turn of the 19th century, had the reputation of a scandalist and a provocateur. His works shocked and intrigued both the critics and the public. Today, when his art has finally been appreciated, he is listed on a par with the greats such as Gauguin or Van Gogh, and his output is seen as a key to the art of the 20th century.
Printing as an instrument of artistic expression was for Ensor equal to painting. Formally, his graphic oeuvre is often compared to that of Rembrandt and at times Dürer, while in terms of iconography he sometimes appears akin to Breughel and Bosch. He attained undeniable mastery in etching and the drypoint technique, and his diversity and virtuosity of style remain impressive today. The catalogue contains reproductions of five canvases by Ensor and over a hundred prints with notes by Herwig Todts. The catalogue part is accompanied by in?depth essays by Marcel van Jole and L. Schoonbaert, in which the most characteristic motifs in Ensor's works are interpreted. With an introduction by Jacek Purchla.

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