Widely credited with having contributed to the revival of painting in the 1990s, Belgian artist Luc Tuymans continues to assert its relevance by addressing a diverse range of topics. Quiet, restrained, and at times unsettling, his works engage equally with questions of history and its representation as with quotidian subject matter cast in unfamiliar and eerie light. Painted from pre-existing imagery, they often appear slightly out-of-focus and sparsely colored, like third-degree abstractions from reality. Whereas earlier works were based on magazine pictures, drawings, television footage, and Polaroids, recent source images include material accessed online and the artist’s own iPhone photos, printed out and sometimes re-photographed several times.
Born in 1958 in Mortsel, near Antwerp, Tuymans was one of the first artists to be represented by David Zwirner. Since joining the gallery in 1994, he has had twelve solo exhibitions with David Zwirner. Previous shows at the gallery in New York include The Summer is Over (2013), Corporate (2010), Forever, The Management of Magic (2008), Proper (2005), Fortune (2003), Mwana Kitoko: Beautiful White Man (2000), Security (1998), The Heritage (1996), Francis Picabia and Luc Tuymans: Paintings (1995); and Superstition (1994), which marked his United States debut. In 2012, Allo! inaugurated the gallery’s first European location on 24 Grafton Street in London and The Shore marked his second solo show in the space in 2015. On view May 5 through June 25, 2016, David Zwirner in New York presented Le Mépris, a solo exhibition of recent paintings by the artist.
Glasses, a solo museum exhibition featuring a selection of portraits by Tuymans is currently on view at Museum aan de Stroom (MAS) in Antwerp (through September 18, 2016). A portion of the presentation will travel to the National Portrait Gallery in London. In the fall of this year, the artist’s work will be presented in a solo exhibition at Lille Métropole, musée d’art moderne, d’art contemporain et d’art brut in Villeneuve d’Ascq, France, as well as the 9th Biennale de Montréal.
In 2015, a major survey of Tuymans’s work, Intolerance, was presented at the Qatar Museums Gallery Al Riwaq in Doha. Comprising over one hundred works, this was the artist’s largest presentation to date. A comprehensive publication by Ludion accompanied the exhibition with texts by renowned art historians, curators, and writers including, Jan Avgikos, Nicholas Cullinan, Jenevive Nykolak, and Nicholas Serota, as well as interviews with the artist by Lynne Cooke and His Excellency Sheikh Jassim bin Abdulaziz Al Thani. Also in 2015, the Talbot Rice Gallery at the University of Edinburgh hosted a solo show, titled Birds of a Feather.
In 2014, Tuymans was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Arts in Poznań. In 2013, a solo presentation of the artist’s portraits, Nice. Luc Tuymans, was held at The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. In 2009, his work was the subject of a retrospective co-organized by the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It traveled from 2010 to 2011 to the Dallas Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; and Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. Previous major survey shows of the artist’s work include those organized by Wiels Centre d’Art Contemporain, Brussels in 2009 (traveled to Baibakov art projects, Moscow, followed by Moderna Museet, Malmö, Sweden) and Tate Modern, London in 2004 (traveled to K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf). In 2007, the artist was granted the title of Commander, Order of Leopold in Belgium.
Tuymans is the curator of the forthcoming group exhibition Intrigue: James Ensor by Luc Tuymans at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. The artist previously organized The Gap: Selected Abstract Art from Belgium in 2016 at the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen Antwerp, which was first on view at the Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, London; Constable, Delacroix, Friedrich, Goya. A Shock to the Senses in 2013 at Albertinum, Dresden; A Vision of Central Europe in 2010 at Groeninge Museum, Brugge Centraal, Bruges, Belgium; and The State of Things: Brussels/Beijing in 2009 at Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, which traveled to the National Art Museum of China, Beijing.
Tuymans is the curator of the current group exhibition The Gap: Selected Abstract Art from Belgium at the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen Antwerp, which was first on view at the Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, London. Later this year the Royal Academy of Arts, London will present Intrigue: James Ensor by Luc Tuymans. The artist previously organized Constable, Delacroix, Friedrich, Goya. A Shock to the Senses in 2013 at Albertinum, Dresden; A Vision of Central Europe in 2010 at Brugge Centraal, Bruges, Belgium; and The State of Things: Brussels/Beijing in 2009 at Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, which traveled to the National Art Museum of China, Beijing.
A catalogue raisonné of the artist’s paintings is currently being prepared by David Zwirner in collaboration with Studio Luc Tuymans. Compiled and edited by art historian Eva Meyer-Hermann, the catalogue raisonné will illustrate and document approximately five hundred paintings by the artist from 1975 to the present day.
In 2001, the artist represented Belgium at the 49th Venice Biennale. His works are featured in museum collections worldwide, including Art Institute of Chicago; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan; Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Tate Gallery, London. In 2012, Tuymans donated his portrait of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands to Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. He lives and works in Antwerp.
Image: Photo by Philippe De Gobert