Tuesday, October 25, 2016

James Ensor's carnival of grotesques crackles like a twisted fairy-tale – review

By Alastair Sooke, art critic
The Intrigue by James Ensor, the title piece of Luc Tuymans's new exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts
LONDON---well-dressed couple are making their way through a crowd. Yet something strange and sinister is going on. This group of grotesques – painted in furiously bright colors and seen close up, squashed against the picture’s surface so that we seem to be shoulder to shoulder with them – could be the cast of a sweaty nightmare. In fact, they are bourgeois Belgians, letting off steam during the topsy-turvy carnival celebrations of Mardi Gras. Known as The Intrigue, and created in 1890 by the fantastical modernist Belgian artist James Ensor (1860-1949), this disturbing picture is the centerpiece of a new exhibition at the Royal Academy, curated by Ensor’s countryman, the celebrated contemporary painter Luc Tuymans. [link]

Self-portrait with Flowered Hat (1883) by James Ensor CREDIT: OOSTENDE PHOTO MUZEE/HUGO MAERTENS