Texts by Jan Hoet, Philippe Pirotte, and Robert Storr 

Published on the occasion of Luc Tuymans’s presentation at the Belgium Pavilion of the 2001 Venice Biennale, where he was chosen to represent his country, this now rare and out-of-print catalogue features a series of paintings originally shown at the exhibition, Mwana Kitoko, at David Zwirner in 2000 and later expanded on for the Venice Biennale. As stated in Jan Hoet’s introduction: 

“. . . each of the national pavilions represents a certain ‘national identity,’ even though they are united under one umbrella. Although it is of course never an explicit aim, the work of the participating artists is often seen as the emanation of their ‘national spirit.’ Now Luc Tuymans plays precisely on that expectation, with extreme subtlety and even cunning, by tackling one of the many historical taboos that prevail in Belgium.”

And as noted in Robert Storr’s essay:

“. . .Tuymans most recent group of paintings bears down hard on one of the murkier and more sinister episodes of modern Belgian history. Focusing his attention on two young men representing the antipodes of colonialism (Baudoiun I, King of Belgium, the ‘Beautiful White Boy’ of the series title, who prematurely took the throne to restore its legitimacy after his father’s wartime collaboration with the German invaders, and Patrice Lumumba, the first Prime Minister of the independent Republic of Congo) Tuymans indirectly links the rapaciousness of King Leopold II, whose ‘creation’ and personal possession Congo had been, to the current civil war in the region and the death of the late President Laurent Kabila, who had overthrown Lumumba’s treacherous aid and successor Joseph Mobutu and had formerly been a member of the Baluba nationalist militia into whose hands Lumumba ultimately fell.”