The Belgian Precursor of Expressionism Personifies the Clash of Opposite Socio-Cultural Trends

What are the painter and the general arguing about? Artists as people of sublime occupation (together with thinkers, scholars, philosophers, theologians, etc.) are always arguing with generals. The quarrel is always about who is in charge – the authoritarian leader armed with his brutality, religious or ideological dogma and military and police force, or the more humane and a sophisticated approach to reality through analytical concepts, probing metaphors and creative logic which use paint and brush, sounds of music and poetic rhythms.

Enzor the Painter Argues with a General

Compare the erected posture of the general with a passionately protruded head of Enzor who wants to understand why his opponent is so rigid and intolerant. Lehman’s head is just part of his body, while Enzor’s has the dynamism of the human mind that is involved in the problem by projecting itself in it. Enzor’s gaze expresses puzzlement and consternation while Lehman’s eyes are maniacally instrumental not only because they are hatefully over-concentrated on the enemy as a target but because Lehman is already psychologically shooting at Enzor. The awkward geometrical shape on Enzor’s palette can be either a slightly distorted universal symbol of love (heart) or a not less universal synecdoche of love-making and of an insult. But the general can realize his excitement and assert his values to his full satisfaction only through destruction – through the toy-cannon (or toy-missile in today’s language): through cannons or missiles as the toys of childish generals. Enzor’s plant-like protruding hair is a humorous representation of the artist’s inspiration. The denaturalization of the background with white paint serves to emphasize the historical permanency of conflict between culture and militarism, humanity and inhumanity.