One of the central themes in Belgian artist Luc Tuymans’s (b. 1958, Antwerp) work is the disastrous events of previous and most recent history such as the holocaust, 9/11 or for many Europeans, Belgium's sordid legacy in post-colonial Congo and its African leader Patrice Lumumba – motifs that for a long time were deemed not presentable. And while his figurative paintings deny a palpable legibility where the motifs are often not clearly recognizable, Tuymans’s works are defined by the stylistic methods of film and photography – unusual details, close-ups, the aesthetics of stills. They can be read as allegories of memory: certain pictures or aspects appear brightly, others disappear in the dark. Tuyman asserts that memory can be deceptive, subjective and patchy. For this reason tuymans employs blurriness, a shadowiness and omission as a visual medium, adding something nebulous or phantom-like to the paintings and evoking the impression of pictures from a faded memory.
Entitled Allo!, this will be the artist’s first solo presentation in London since his 2004 retrospective at Tate Modern. This new eponymous body of work is inspired by one of the final scenes in the 1942 film The Moon and Sixpence, an adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's novel from 1919. The film’s plot is loosely based upon the life of Paul Gauguin and revolves around the character of Charles Strickland, a former stockbroker who leaves his job and family to become an artist. Several years later, following Strickland’s death, his doctor travels to his living quarters in Tahiti and is taken aback by the powerful, beautiful art left behind. Tuymans' painting depicts the moment the doctor enters the impassioned artist's thatched-roof studio and experiences the work in person. Shortly thereafter, the
studio and its contents are set on fire by Strickland's new wife as part of a promise to her husband on his deathbed. In original screenings of the film, these final scenes were
rendered in colour, in contrast to the black-and-white appearance of the earlier parts of the film.
Overlapping with the London show will be an exhibition -- also of all new works by Tuymans -- at David Zwirner in New York in the 519 West 19th Street space. The Summer is Over will open in November 2012 and will mark the tenth solo show Tuymans has done with Zwirner.
To coincide with these shows, a comprehensive catalogue will be published by Ludion featuring an interview between David Zwirner and Luc Tuymans.
David Zwirner Website