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Luc Tuymans- Eternity

Updated: Jun 28, 2022

David Zwirner Gallery, Paris, France June 10 - July 23 2022

Luc Tuymans is another Belgian figurative artist that I have been looking at for a long time.

He is considered one of the most influential painters working today.

His signature figurative paintings transform mediated film, television, and print sources into examinations of history and memory.

This current exhibition of new works focuses on the history of painting and the medium's inherent emphasis on illusion, thereby heightening the disjuncture between the seeing and the knowing. This has become a hallmark of his practice.1

As you can see in figure 1 below, the works in the exhibition are all very different.

Figure 1. Luc Tuymans, David Zwirner Gallery, Paris, 2022. (Photo: Otman Qrita).

It is Luc Tuymans figurative work in this exhibition that peaks my interest and especially some of the quotes by the art critics in the exhibition catalogue.

The first work that I found really interesting was After, as seen in figure 2.

Figure 2. Luc Tuymans, After, 2021.

The source material from this work has actually come from a painting by Jean Francois Millet, Le semeur, ( The Sower), 1850, as seen in figure 3 below.

Figure 3. Jean-Francois Millet, Le semeur (The Sower), 1850, (detail).

Tuymans title After, cleverly suggests a double meaning, acknowledging the source material as well as the passage of time, referencing the history of painting.

Through my research I have discovered that most artists at some point in their career seem to paint from historical source material. I learnt that Odd Nerdrum, Michael Borremans, Glenn Brown, Jenny Saville and now Luc Tuymans, have all referenced historical practices. I have found myself doing this as well. This helps me to establish an art-historical context for my own practice as a painter.

The second work that I found interesting was Fantomas, as seen in figure 4.

Figure 4. Luc Tuymans, Fantomas, 2022.

Tuymans has been described as having a non-narrative approach to figurative painting. I find this work to be a really good example to help me understand this concept. This is also particularly well articulated by Caroline Bourgeois, in exhibition catalogue for La Pelle: Luc Tuymans, Palazzo Grassi, Venice, 2019, in the quote below.

“Tuymans never chooses perfect representation but rather takes a risk in painting. He says that a painting should always have a ‘hole,’ a defect, and viewers can enter this ‘gap’ in order to bring their own story and narrative to the painting. In this sense, his approach is more conceptual than expressive.”2

In my recent works I have attempted adopt this conceptual approach by expanding and shifting my critical engagement, not only with each work as it evolves but rather being more mindful of how the works interrelate and read across each other, to convey a consistent intention- but more specifically leaving the reading 'more' open to the viewers own interpretation, or 'leaving a gap' for a more conceptual approach.

I also really resonate with this quote below by Robert Storr, in the exhibition catalogue for Nice. Luc Tuymans, The Menil Collection, Houston, 2013.

“Art’s purpose is to make things visible, especially those that are most commonly ignored, those we miss precisely because they are in plain sight. To the extent that the penumbra which settles over Tuymans’s images further obscures them, its effect, indeed its function is to make us look harder.”3

This quote defines one of the underlying intentions behind my practice of painting.

I attempt to make 'things', or, make my 'subjects', that are generally in plain sight, but commonly ignored, more visible, to give them a form of agency. Albeit the language of art is silent. I aim to emotionally and intellectually engage with the viewer to bring the affect of dynamic human relationships to forefront of our minds through my painting practice.

  1. David Zwirner Gallery, Luc Tuymans Press Release, Eternity, accessed June 26, 2022,

  2. Zwirner Gallery, "Tuymans Press Release".

  3. Ibid, "Press Release"



  1. Luc Tuymans, 2022. Photo: Otman Qrita. David Zwirner Gallery, Paris, France, accessed June 26, 2022,

  2. Luc Tuymans, After, 2021, oil on canvas, 216.3cm x 117.2cm, David Zwirner Gallery, Paris, France, accessed June 26, 2022,

  3. Jean-Francois Millet, Le semeur ( The Sower ), 1850, oil on canvas, (detail) Collection of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

  4. Luc Tuymans, Fantomas, 2022, oil on canvas, 81cm x 55.2cm, David Zwirner Gallery, Paris, France, accessed June 26, 2022,


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