Edgard Tytgat (°1879, Brussels) pulled out all the visual stops to retell myths, legends and fairy tales in his paintings and prints. Like the filmmakers of his time, he depicted a world full of imagination, absurdity and humour. M brings Tytgat’s ‘fairy tales’ back to life and shows a wide range of works from museum and private collections.

During his career Edgard Tytgat painted nearly five hundred canvases and made countless watercolours, woodcuts, etchings and drawings. Even though he belonged to the group of artists associated with the journal Sélection, his work cannot be placed in any one particular camp. It is difficult to divide his work into well-defined periods, and it lacks clear chronological development. His earliest works are considered impressionistic, while later works can be described as expressionistic or naive.

One thing is certain: Tytgat was a born storyteller. A multitude of scenarios play out within a single image. Sixty years after his death, the present exhibition highlights this superabundance of motifs. In addition to a large selection of oil paintings, M will show never-before exhibited archival material including videos, diaries and short stories.

Tytgat’s world was bittersweet. He was thoroughly familiar with art history and often drew inspiration from classic themes. His works are often bathed in an atmosphere of lost innocence or youth, fantasies, eroticism, etc. Everyday life and incidents from his own environment were also a great source of inspiration. However, Tytgat’s real strength was his virtuoso manner of storytelling. He invested images that at first glance seem naive, childlike and cheerful with a dark side. In this way he was able to create a complex web of meanings.

Filmmaker and co-curator Gust Van den Berghe recognised in the work of Swedish director Roy Andersson a visual language that strongly resembles Tytgat’s narrative style. Juxtaposing the work of Andersson with that of Tytgat reinforces the power of both worlds.