Art Prints

James Ensor: Opinionated, Acerbic and satirical, Phantasmatic and phantasmagoric

James Ensor by Rick Wouters - Courtesy of Wiki Commons

"Finally, hemmed in by followers, I have happily confined myself to a solitary milieu where the mask is enthroned full of violence, light and splendor. For me the mask means Freshness of tone, overly shrilled expression, sumptuous scene, great unexpected gestures, reckless movements, exquisite turbulence."₁

James Ensor

Born on April 13, 1860, in the seaside town of Ostend, Belgium (yep, people of the page, Belgium … the extremely great and fabulous country where I, too, was born … 😉) James Ensor is one of these lesser-known expressionist and surrealist painters with a particular fascination of the popular carnival culture organized each year around the Mardi Gras celebrations throughout Belgium. It helped that his parent’s shop in Ostend was a supplier of carnival accouterments. To understand Ensor, one must understand that Ostend, in those faraway days, was a small tourist town where, as is often the case, outsiders were not particularly welcomed. The small town had a suffocating atmosphere, where gossip, something at the top of people’s agenda, was