Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Luc Tuymans at Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

The first U.S. retrospective of the work of Belgian contemporary artist Luc Tuymans, and the most comprehensive presentation of his work to date is on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago from October 2, 2010 through January 9, 2011. The show features approximately 75 key paintings from 1978 to the present and reunites works from important series as initially set out by the artist, thus restoring intended dialogue among the works.

Luc Tuymans (born 1958) is considered to be one of the most significant painters working today. While addressing issues of history and memory his distinctive visual style and approach emphasizes the tensions between the handcraft of painting and the mechanical eye of photography. Interested in the after-effects of the most traumatic events of the last and present century and their representation in the mass media, Tuymans uses a muted palette to create paintings that are at once sumptuous and subtle, enigmatic and disarmingly stark.

Born and raised in Antwerp, where he continues to live and work, Tuymans draws on the historical traditions of Northern European painting as well as photography (with his use of polaroids as source material), cinema and television. He appropriates images from a variety of sources and makes use of cropping, close-ups, framing and sequencing to offer fresh perspectives on the medium of painting as well as larger cultural issues. Whether interiors, landscapes, or figural representations, his works might initially suggest relatively innocuous depictions of everyday life, but there is almost always another meaning lurking beneath their surfaces. Like veiled memories, Tuymans's paintings oscillate between coherence and illegibility, challenging viewers' certainty about not only what they are looking at but also how they should be looking.

Surely it is against these considerations that any substantive art practice should be measured and evaluated.

The painting: Bridge 2009

1 comment:

scott davidson said...

How are we looking at the paintings of Mark Rothko these days?
Is he old hat, replaced in America by more contemporary concerns? Looking at his minimal canvases and their enticing floating squares of subdued paint live at the MOMA recently, I had to stop to wonder whether he still communicates to a modern and younger audience., the site that sells good canvas prints to order from their database of digital images, has many Rothko prints. I ordered this one, Blue and grey,
, that I have now hanging in my study. I can spend a long time looking at this elusive image that takes me to some other place not in this world.