Friday, 16 November 2012

the man who haunted himself - léon spilliaert

Léon Spilliaert (1881-1946) was a self-taught painter influenced by symbolism who also anticipated several later art movements. What makes him stand apart though is the visionary shock of his paintings, a singular timeless gaze. Whether in the early works, including the self-portraits in which as Dylan Trigg writes, Spilliaert seems to encounter his own ghost that has come too soon, or in the later nature works dominated by trees, there's a feeling of reality dissolving before your eyes. After looking at them the most ordinary of scenes - a bus on a street, a fork on a plate, a staircase - look as if they could be transformed by him, even now, into introspective expressions of both intense Flemish melancholy and hallucinogenic modernist bedazzlement.

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