The Eloquent Silence of Leon Spilliaert

A couple of summers ago I read a very moving and interesting novel based on the lives of writers in exile in Ostend fleeing from the Nazis. This book which I started in German is called Ostende. 1936, Sommer der Freundschaft came out quite recently and is another example of a novel based on historical research which some critics call faction. It is written by the erudite and clever Volker Weidermann who has since written this equally brilliant book on the Munich Republic, Dreamers: When the Writers Took Power, Germany 1918 I recall from the opening chapter of Ostende,1936 an initial impression of Stefan Zweig looking seawards which I have retained almost as though it were a magical memory of my own visit. This together with the descriptions of the paintings and studio of James Ensor had engaged my interest in this town, which must have changed considerably since the 1930s. Having been sensitised in this manner, I was delighted to come across the lyrical, magical and perhaps a little ominous. Perhaps capturing the ambience of this latest lockdown in November.

Ontmoet kunstenaar Léon Spilliaert | museumPASSmusées

The Guardian has an excellent review of a recent exhibition at the R.A. earlier this year.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2020/feb/09/leon-spilliaert-belgian-artist-ostend-royal-academy

If your French is up to it -or your translation engine there is also this blog

http://antiochus.over-blog.com/article-30132067.html

Author: penwithlit

Freelance writer and radio presenter

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