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Drill Hall Gallery

Luc Tuymans was born in Mortsel, Belgium in 1958 and currently lives and works in Antwerp. He is regarded as one of the most significant contemporary figurative painters and while strongly influenced by other media, such as film and photography, painting is his key medium. His art education includes study at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels de la Cambre, Brussels (1979-80), Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, Antwerp (1980-82) and Vrije Universiteit, Brussels (1982-86). Tuymans' works have been shown all over the world including in Venice, Lyon and Sydney Biennials, as well as in major shows in Tokyo, New York and at Documenta in Kassel.

Often modest in scale and looking like old photographs, Tuymans' paintings are characterised by their psychologically compelling character. Asking his viewers to confront rather than escape the real violence of life and history, the paintings mainly reference the reality of everyday objects and situations in an ambiguous manner of representation. Frequently the paintings' images are deceptively "ordinary", despite the mood of unease evoked through the pale, washed out colours and cropped effects that often cut off parts of the subject. Titles such as Gas Chamber and Treblinka manifest the unease the paintings cause, and his exhibition titles - Superstition, Rumour or Premonition - magnify the feeling.

Drawing on themes such as fascism, nazism, child abuse, power, slavery and colonialism, as well as contemporary consumerism and everyday violence, his paintings are "representations of representations" that are founded on memories. As has been noted, Tuymans' paintings force us into an unsettling confrontation with some of the bleakest aspects of human nature. He says that pictures 'to have an effect, must have the tremendous intensity of silence ... the silence before the storm'.



Luc Tuymans
Oil on canvas
234 x 116cm
Collection of James and Jacqui Erskine
Image courtesy Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp
Photograph: Felix Tirry

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Last Modified: Fri, 06 Jun 2003