Ensor belongs to the handful of Belgian artists who are also internationally renowned. Everywhere in the world museums, collectors and enthusiasts are interested in Ensor's groundbreaking art. Even long before the expression became a fashionable cliché, Ensor was already a game changer. Yet Ensor's art is still too often overshadowed by the popular image we have of him: a strange guy who composed ballets at his piano in his Ostend souvenir shop.
The innovative qualities of Ensor's painting, his etchings and drawings are the direct result of his desire to systematically explore the most diverse techniques, genres and methods of representation. Throughout his life, Ensor will continue to defend his pursuit of artistic diversity, his quest for various stylistic, iconographic or technical alternatives. It is the only way in which an artist will succeed in inspiring his audience, and that is the ultimate goal for Ensor.
To do justice both to the great diversity and to the subcutaneous artistic coherence of his art, Ensor's oeuvre is divided into three thematic ensembles:
(1) Landscapes and fantastic compositions in which the artist seeks sublime images.
(2) Still-life paintings. Inspired by Maeterlinck and Jan van Ruusbroec, Ensor says that "colour is the ornament of our spiritual wedding" and that is why in Ensor’s mind, the art of still-life painting is the hallmark of the true colourist.
(3) The woman. Ensor's contemporaries regarded his representations of young women from the bourgeoisie as an homage to the intimate charm and homeliness of their protected existence. But "the woman" is also the main character in some of Ensor's most grotesque masquerades.
This new Ensor presentation consists almost exclusively of paintings and drawings from the collection of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp. With 38 paintings and some 650 drawings, the museum not only has the largest, but also the very best Ensor collection.
As a long-term loan, Mu.ZEE received 26 paintings from the Antwerp Royal Museum of Fine Arts. In addition, varying ensembles with drawings will also be on display.