Ensor in Ostend, Affleck in Manchester (by the Sea), and me in London
James Ensor was a name that meant nothing to me. The Belgian artist only swum into my consciousness because there is an exhibition of his work currently at the Royal Academy in London and, as a ‘Friend’ of the RA, I get announcements of forthcoming events and some introductory material on the artist.
As part of our weekend in London, Laura and I decided to go to the RA this morning and wander the few rooms upstairs dedicated to Ensor.
Intriguing. Ensor — who spent much of his life alone, both physically and certainly mentally — appears to have been much exercised by skeletons, death, and masks. It is clear that he saw life as a rather scary experience but his painting also verges on — and often veers towards — the comic, even when at its most macabre.
As with the best exhibitions, this made me want to learn more about Ensor, who spent much of his life in the Belgian coastal town of Ostend.
Another seaside town featured in our second cultural event of the day. We went to see Manchester by the Sea at the Curzon Soho.
It is a film of wonderful, pitch-perfect performances and a gritty realism that makes you feel by the end that, not only have you lived in close disharmony with the film’s central characters, but that you have become an inhabitant of the claustrophobic town of the action. Laura put it perfectly when she remarked on leaving the cinema that it was a surprise to fine ourselves in central London.
And so to bed.