text and image roberto voorbij
For the first time in his own country is there a serious retrospective of the Belgian artist Luc Tuymans. In 75 paintings is the viewer given an insight into his subversive ideas on history painting. An important aspect of Tuymans work is the given that the genre itself is exposed to analysis. His paintings are somewhat clumsily painted and in pale colors to emphasize that the perception and representation of history is to a large extent a subjective one. One’s own memories and one’s own experience is what everyone ultimately has to do it with, even the subjective experience of the other is out of reach what makes it even more bitter. Hence the portrayed often gaze out the picture, no contact with the viewer. The unreliability and inaccuracy of historical source material is further underlined by Tuymans by converting it from the indexical sign of photo to the iconic sign of painting, which above all questions painting itself as documentation material. By integrating in some of the works a poor trompe l’oeil frame Tuymans seems to foresee for his own paintings a vague future also. History painting is further being stripped down by depicting no grand events but details, seemingly innocent and random objects that visualize the fragmentation of the past, but what can also be interpreted as a visualization of the banality of evil. By confronting everyday objects with the blackest events they all become suspect, seems to lie behind everything a dark history.
Luc Tuymans – The Nose (2002). Poster.
Luc Tuymans – Insomnia (1988). Oil on canvas.
Luc Tuymans – Body (1990). Oil on canvas.
Luc Tuymans – The Leg (1994). Oil on canvas.