press release

Luc Tuymans is a painter who has made a significant contribution to the medium of painting over the past fifteen years. Born in Belgium in 1958, he is one of the most highly regarded artists of his generation and represented Belgium at the Venice Biennale in 2001.This will be the first major exhibition of his work in the UK.

Tuyman’s projects have enormous breadth and present an in-depth study of the nature of painting and representation as well as the condition and quality of memory and its depiction. Sensing early on that nothing new or original was possible within the medium of painting, Tuymans created the notion of ‘authentic forgery’. This paradox helps to explain the tension between tradition and innovation in contemporary painting. Through this idea, Tuymans found a reason for continuing to paint. His preoccupation with the power of the image and the validity of painting has led to the creation of a varied and remarkable body of work. The idea of ‘authentic forgery’ is further developed by Tuymans’s distinctive palette of bleached out and faded colours and the seemingly ancient, cracked patina of some of his paintings. With his subtle use of tone, Tuymans suggests a powerful sense of history. He has said ‘A tone is more effective than a colour. A tone can grow, a colour cannot’.

Tuymans deals with difficult themes and subject matter ranging from Christ’s Passion, to the Holocaust, and other complex aspects of twentieth century history. This was evident in the painter’s recent ambitious project for the Belgian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, (2001) Mwana Kitoko – Beautiful White Man. In this series of oblique yet atmospheric paintings Tuymans depicts the colonial experience of the 1950s Belgian Congo. The works implicitly refer to the continuing scandal of Belgian involvement in the assassination of the first Congolese Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba. Other works present familiar everyday subjects in which their uncanny quality often creates a sense of impending danger, hinting at the terrors that lurk in everyday life: an empty shower cubicle could become a potential crime scene; a harmless curtain suggests something lurking behind.

Originally considering a career as a filmmaker, Tuymans places isolated images together in groups that stimulate the viewer to create fragmentary narratives that capture a sense of potential menace. Influenced by the films of Polanski and Georges Franju, Tuymans uses found photography and his own polaroids in the development of his images. He has been described by the critic Dominic van den Boogerd as ‘the Polanski of contemporary painting – looking through the lens that isolates him from a terrible world which is entirely his own.

Tuymans was born in Antwerp where he continues to live and work. His work was first exhibited in the late 1980s and since then he has participated in Documenta IX 1992 and XI 2002, Kassel, Germany and presented Mwana Kitoko – Beautiful White Man in the Belgian Pavillion, Giardini di Venezia, Venice Biennale 2001.

The exhibition is a collaboration with K21, Düsseldorf and will be shown at K21 from 16 October 2004 – 23 January 2005. The exhibition will feature around eighty works and groups of works, produced over a period of twenty years and is curated by Emma Dexter, Senior Curator, Tate Modern who worked with Tuymans on his 1995 exhibition Superstition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by Tate Publishing.

only in german

Luc Tuymans
Kuratorin: Emma Dexter

23.06.04 - 26-09.04 Tate Modern, London
16.10.04 - 23.01.05 K 21 Kunstsammlung im Ständehaus, Düsseldorf