Looking at the work of Luc Tuymans


For the exhibition that Tuymans is talking about in this interview, he has used second hand imagery that he has taken from a film, ‘The moon and sixpence’, he has taken stills from it and edited them and worked his paintings from that. All his work is completed in one day. I had a look at this film to see what sections he used and managed to find the shots of the doctor stood in front of Gauguin’s work, near the end. He describes his work as ‘kitsch’ at one point, although I would not have given it this discription. I am not sure how to describe it. But I can see that his theme and narrative drives the exhibition. I can relate to him when he says the first few hours on a painting are hell, until you can begin to see that it is working!  He talks about building up the layers  and the precision and timing of it. Modern art often seems to borrow from others’ work; this is not something I feel I would like to do although I am happy to work from my own photographs.


source: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/luc-tuymans

Tuymans ‘…. concentrated on painting but in the early 1980s he lost faith in the medium and gave up for two years. During this time he worked as a film-maker, and when he returned to painting in the mid-1980s, he introduced new techniques such as cropping, close-ups, framing and sequencing, which remain key elements of his work today.’

It is interesting to see how his work within the film industry then shaped and changed his approach  to his painting. 


‘Against the day’ image from pinterest. I like the cool, milky colours in this and the reflection in the glass lens and how what is being reflected (not sure what it is!) is like an iris. Irony?


Lumumba (2000), Luc Tuymans. Image: courtesy the artist. source: https://www.apollo-magazine.com/a-necessary-realism-interview-with-luc-tuymans/

‘…his presentation for the Belgian Pavilion at the 2001 Venice Biennale, a series taking as a starting point the history of Belgian imperial rule in the Congo and the murder of Patrice Lumumba, he was labelled a political artist. It is a title he hotly resists: ‘I don’t think that an artist can be political, without formulating propaganda.’ A painting should not strive to communicate a pre-determined moral standpoint, then, but might encourage the viewer to reconsider theirs.’

Well, political or not, I like his bold brush strokes on this portrait, and the facial expression, which could be many things: thoughtful, sad…then look again and I see almost some humour in the eyes.

The interview for the Apollo magazine talks about Tuymans’ method of working and how  it comprises two stages.  Firstly a lengthy period when an image and an idea gains shape in his mind which can last months or even years,…. ‘and is ‘the most painful part of the process’. Images are tested and reconsidered, with Tuymans sometimes using computer programmes to alter them digitally to his satisfaction, or maquettes to realise them in space. Following this comes a burst of intense physical activity in which the finalised image is translated onto the canvas’.

I can take from this the value of storing images, cutting, ideas in note form or in my sketchpad and to look through this to find things that might spark off an idea for a painting. I love that his manages to complete in one, day, then heads out for a drinking evening and then appraises his work in the morning, trying to see it from someone else’s point of view. I often find the need to walk away and then look again, or to take a picture of my work in order to see it through different eyes.






Author: Wendy Kate

Happily sharing my life in Spain with a tall bearded man from Dorset.

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