Léon Spilliaert: from the depths of the soul


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Anne Adriaens-Pannier
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The first publication in English of the ultimate monograph on painter Léon Spilliaert.

Léon Spilliaert (1881–1946) was one of the most important Flemish Symbolist painters. Although he was embedded in the Symbolist tradition, he was also drawn to the avant-garde. He was, in fact, an einzelgänger, or loner, balancing on the fault line between two centuries, a transitional figure between Symbolism and Surrealism. Spilliaert, like James Ensor, was born and raised in Ostend. And like Ensor, he was also driven by ridicule and irony, non-conformism and the urge to look at the world from a different perspective. He created his own spiritual imagery, experimented with pastel and gouache, and played with purified areas of colour and graceful lines. The sea under a cool moon, lonely figures with a vacant gaze, desolate beaches, empty rooms and stylised silhouettes in backlight: Spilliaert was always able to evoke an atmosphere of mystery, magic and alienation in abstract lines and colours.

This revised, English-language version of the ultimate Spilliaert book will be published to coincide with the major Spilliaert exhibition at the Royal Academy in London this autumn.