Edgard Tytgat, visual storyteller

Edgard Tytgat

We get on on the merry-go-round. It barely gets started when I pass out. Everyone in turmoil. Women in black hooded cloaks carry me home. My brother follows us, shivering and weeping.

(Edgard Tytgat, Memories of Childhood and Youth, ca. 1950)

This is how Edgard Tytgat's first tale goes. A traumatic experience that haunts him as a child and enriches him as an artist. At this precise moment, the seeds of his painting career were sown. It is therefore the first scene of this masterly canvas "Quelques images de la vie d'un artiste". Tygat chronologically depicts his life as an artist, his successes and misfortunes, his dreams and nightmares.

The top row shows Tytgat's troubled childhood. Then in the second row we see his quest as an artist and his detachment from the parental home. His career takes off, while at the bottom row it becomes clear that after the top, decline follows. The autobiographical scenes also refer to other paintings by Tytgat, such as in the middle of the third row: "Ministerial visit", which he made in 1934.

Edgard Tytgat - "Quelques images de la vie de l'artiste" (1946)

The penultimate image depicts Tytgat as an ant, who gives his savings to the taxman, depicted as a giant pig. After the war, Tytgat owed a large sum, almost all of his savings, to the tax authorities. A claim that marked the artist for a long time. In the last image, he resumes his journey, naked and destitute, with his beloved wife.

Tytgat takes us on a visual journey through his repertory. In twelve scenes he tells the story of his life, which he subtly decorates with fable, fantasy, myth and humor. Delineated scenes form a linear narrative that is depicted in one single image like a comic strip. It is a seemingly simplistic way of rendering, after a medieval example, but Tytgat is inventive and ingenious. With a web of references, autobiographical elements, stories, fantasy and titles, he weaves a monumental story complex in which images and meanings fully unfold in their mutual relationship.

Lot 252. See detail

This work was part of the exhibition "Edgard Tytgat, Memory of a beloved window" at the Museum M in Leuven in 2017, which is explained below.