The Last Day


Pierre Alechinsky
Brussels 1927
oil on canvas
306 x 506 x 8 cm
Inventory number 3039

An oddly warped world inhabited by peculiar-looking creatures fills the canvas. Apart from ducks and snakes, we discern some owls and fishes. The Last Day, by Belgian painter and graphic artists Pierre Alechinsky, combines abstract elements with recognisable forms. The painting is reminiscent of the aesthetic of CoBrA, a movement that was established simultaneously in Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam in 1948 and that distanced itself from discussions about abstract versus figurative art. The members of CoBrA felt that the two were perfectly combinable, a position that Alechinsky maintained throughout his career. Over the years, Alechinsky's work has become increasingly bold and richer in colour, as he gives ever freer reign to his imagination.

Tribute to Ensor

The Last Day was shown in the 1968 exhibition 'Contrasts 47/67', the first show at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp to feature contemporary art. The work was subsequently incorporated into the museum collection. It has been suggested that the monumental work - the canvas measures three by five metres - was intended to compete in terms of size with Ensor's Entry of Christ into Brussels, also on display at the museum at the time and measuring 'a mere' two-and-a-half by four-and-a-half metres. The two paintings are also comparable in terms of composition. Alechinsky was, after all, a great admirer of Ensor. The Last Day may therefore be seen as a tribute to the latter.

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