The Belgian night owl artist Léon Spilliaert (1881-1946)

Self-portait, 1907.

This is the first monographic exhibition of Spilliaert’s work in the UK and will showcase some 80 works on paper – from images of his home town and the coast, to later works capturing the tranquillity of the forest outside Brussels. It will bring together works from public and private collections across Belgium, France and the USA, presenting a journey through the lifetime of a remarkably insightful and unusual artist.

The Absinthe Drinker, 1907.

The exhibition is organised in four thematic sections, presenting a journey through the lifetime of this remarkably intuitive an peculiar artist. Entitled Illumination, section one focuses on Spilliaert’s engagement with literature, theatre and book illustration and introduces his poetic visions of nature.

Tree Behind a Wall, 1936

Section two, Twilight, explores Spilliaert’s transmit expressions of emptiness and loneliness in the twilit world he inhabited. Still-lifes and interior scenes transmit a quiet glow in the depths of night, ans as in Young Woman on a Stool, 1909 solitary women wait for their husbands to return from sea at the end of the day. Also includes examples of a commission to illustrate Belgique II, one of the first airships in Belgium.

Dike at night. Reflected lights, 1908.

Section three, Littoral, examines Spilliaert’s fascination with the liminal areas between land and sea, and as seen in A Gust of Wind, 1904, and Dike at night, Reflected lights, 1908 his depictions of the streets, beach and promenade of Ostend. The final section, Reflection, brings together an important group of self-portraitsIt is a wonderful opportunity to discover the first major exhibition of this self-taught artist born in Ostend, the seaside resort on the North Sea coast patronised by the Belgian royal family.

The Gust of Wind, 1904.
Woman at the Shoreline, 1910

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