Gailliard visits Ensor

11/05 - 27/08/2023

Jean-Jacques Gailliard (Brussels, November 22, 1890 – Saint-Gilles, April 17, 1976) was a Belgian painter and graphic artist. As the son of the Impressionist painter Franz Gailliard (1861-1932), friend and colleague of James Ensor, the young Jean-Jacques received his first drawing and painting lessons from his father. During his childhood years he was surrounded by artists, musicians and persons from the world of esotericism and occultism.


While attending the humanities at the Athenaeum of Brussels, he enrolled in 1903 at the Brussels Academy. Until 1907 he took drawing lessons with Émile Fabry (1865-1966) and drawing  the classical figure with Guillaume Van Strydonck (1861-1937). From 1907 to 1911 he took lessons in drawing from nature with Jean Delville (1867-1953). In 1912, Gailliard became a follower of the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), a Swedish mystic. In 1915 he was responsible for the decoration of the chapel of the General Church of New Jerusalem (followers of Swedenborg) in Ixelles. In his work of that first period, his spiritualistic orientation resulted in a tendency towards symbolism, in combination with a pointillist technique. During the interwar period, his painting became abstract. From 1920 to 1924, Gailliard lived in Paris, where he maintained contact with numerous artists and writers, including Isidora Duncan, Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Eric Satie, and others. From 1922, he participated in the Salon des Indépendants in Paris. 

Even before he left for Paris, he counted Pierre-Louis Flouquet (1900-1967) and Pierre Bourgeois (1898-1976) among his friends. When “7 Arts” was founded in 1922, he took part in the group's exhibitions. In 1923 he participated in the salon of “La Lanterne Sourde” in the Egmont Palace and in 1925, together with Baugniet, Jasinski, Servranckx, Flouquet, Xhrouet and Maes, he was part of “Les peintres constructeurs”, brought together by “La Lanterne Sourde ”. In 1925, he was one of the co-founders of the group "L'Assaut", whose aim was to defend the modernist spirit. His work evolved towards an abstract geometric design, but throughout his life he continued to make figurative drawings and paintings, including scenes of Brussels and Ostend. He also painted portraits of artists and writers who belonged to his circle of acquaintances, such as the poet Maurice Maeterlinck, the painter Fernand Khnopff, the playwright Michel de Ghelderode... and James Ensor, whom he often visited when he stayed at the Belgian coast with his family.