James Ensor in Context

The largest collection of Ensor’s work, at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, brings 50 of his most influential sketches and paintings to Tokyo for an intriguing new show.

Ensor, whose images are enlivening Tokyo’s metro stations from posters inviting us to this exhibition, lived from 1860 to 1949 and influenced artistic movements such as surrealism and expressionism which came after his life.

His own style, featuring grotesque motifs with masks and skeletons, say the organisers, “was influenced by the traditional paintings of Flanders, and the major painting movements of the 19th century, such as plein-airism.”

Many rarely-before-seen drawings and sketches show Ensor’s skill as a colourist who can capture still life (many colour paintings have not been shown before) and help to “reveal” a side of the Belgian that even big fans may not know much about. The collection is displayed in a way that helps us interpret the story of Ensor’s artistic life more clearly. Certainly worth a trip to this 42nd floor gallery in Shinjuku where you can also see works by Van Gogh and Cezanne which are part of the permanent collection.

When: From Sept 8th (Sat.) to November 11th (Sun.), 2012

(closed Mondays, except September 17th and October 1st, 8th)

Where: Seiji Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Museum of Art, 1-26-1, Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-8338 Sompo Japan Headquarters build. 42nd floor

How Much: 1,000 yen (800yen)
University & High School Students: 600 yen (500yen)
Children of Junior High School or under: Free

More info and map: click here.

Main image: The Intrigue, by James Ensor (1890) [Lukas – Art in Flanders vzw / KMSKA]