text and image roberto voorbij
The title of this work by the Belgian painter Luc Tuymans is literally a title, HM i.e. Her Majesty. Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands to be more specific, portrayed on the occasion of the long awaited reopening of the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum, of which she also performed the official ceremony. In comparison with the larger than life portrait ‘HM’, are these latter personal data already on the intimate side. The look of the portrayed gazes past you. No contact. The whole is an accumulation of protocol and stateliness. The depicted Orange Room in the palace Huis ten Bosch, the directed position of the hands, the ditto hairstyle, the format. The person Beatrix seems absent, turned by the composition into just a part of the official presentation. The hands in a form rhyme with floor. The neckline, the dress, and her portrait coincide respectively with paneling, furnishing and depicted painting. A representation in front of a representation. The Queen as an image, as a representation of a structure of power, tradition, authority. It is this latter interpretation, this latter definition, however, where Tuymans intervenes and shows a truer picture. With his familiar subversive style of vague contours, pale colors, snapshot composition, asymmetrical design. In Tuymans’ work the authority fades. The power symbol dissolves.
The work HM is on permanent display in the new entrance hall of the Stedelijk Museum.
Luc Tuymans – HM (2012). Oil on canvas. Anonymous gift. Courtesy of David Zwirner, London (GB).