The Belgian artist Léon Spilliaert (1881-1946) has not always received the public attention in Britain that his talents deserve. Exhibitions in London this spring at the Royal Academy – the first ever UK retrospective of the artist’s work – and at Bonhams are set to redress this lack of exposure, and to place his oeuvre alongside that of the foremost Symbolist and Expressionist artists.
The Bonhams exhibition, titled ‘Léon Spilliaert: A Discerning Eye’, runs from 20-26 March inclusive, and consists of 12 works, all gathered from private collections in Belgium. It spans the whole of Spilliaert’s career, from the sombre and anguished paintings of his early period to the later brighter and more optimistic works.
Bonhams Head of Impressionist & Modern Art, Hannah Foster, said: “Léon Spilliaert’s work resonates deeply with modern concerns. He was one of the earliest artists to embrace subjectivity, and explore the themes of alienation, existential torment and loneliness.
“Although Spilliaert is often classified as a Belgian Symbolist painter, he also ranks alongside celebrated Expressionist artists such as Egon Schiele, Edvard Munch, Vilhelm Hammershøi and – figures with whom he has much in common.”
Writing in the current edition of Bonhams Magazine, the co-curator of the RA Spilliaert exhibition Dr Adrian Locke said: “Spilliaert is an artist for our time. Outside literature, few have captured the essence of human fragility better than this once peripheral artist, whose work deserves to be more widely appreciated.”
Link to Bonhams Magazine: https://www.bonhams.com/press_
Bonhams celebratory exhibition runs concurrently with the RA exhibition (23 February-25 May). The curator of the RA Exhibition, Dr. Anne Adriaens-Pannier, has collaborated closely with Bonhams, and the two shows can be seen as complementary.