Under the High Patronage of
Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic
His Majesty Albert II, King of Belgium
This exhibition, the first retrospective to be presented in Paris since 1990, aims to show the interplay of fracture and continuity to be found throughout Ensor's work.
Continuity comes from the Naturalism and Symbolism that influenced his early work, as well as the tradition of masks, disguise, grotesque and satire, and carnival, a legacy from his childhood in Ostend, a city to which he was deeply attached. Fracture is the dramatisation of the use of colour and light. It is also the invention of a new language where the words intrude unsubtly alongside images, in order to give meaning to ideas, and the invention of a new narrative system teeming with characters and actions. Through his scathing irony, his sense of derision and self-derision, his intense colours and his expressiveness, Ensor, a strange and unclassifiable painter, finds his place amongst the precursors of Expressionism.