„The Shore“ presents new work by Luc Tuymans currently on show at David Zwirner Gallery London. Site specific with their iconic language of quiet and restrained sublteness, these recent paintings continue to assert their relevance by adressing a diverse range of topics.
They equally engage 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 of Tuymans 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.
In „The Shore“ the cool light of digital screens reverberates with the color scheme of many of the paintings. One of those typically cross-referenced series is a sequence of portraits of three Scottish Enlightenment thinkers originally painted by Henry Raeburn, one of Scotland’s most acclaimed artists from that time. Tuymans visited the art collection of the University of Edinburgh just prior to the 2014 independence referendum, and found in those works “an element of disruption” that matched the current political climate.
The intensity of the close-up portraits is countered by two near-monochrome paintings depicting an obelisk in a wooded landscape and a single, puffy cloud respectively. Based on the wallpaper of a luxury hotel that Tuymans also visited on his Edinburgh trip, their serene, if stifling aestheticism seems to suggest how the perils of isolationism and class indifference may stall the radical ideas of forward-looking members of society.
Enlightenment ethics become juxtaposed with a notion of impending horror in the monumental title painting of the exhibition, kept entirely in a dark hue except from a narrow strip occupied by minuscule people. Based on the opening scene of the colonially-inspired 1968 film A Twist of Sand, the unidentifiable individuals are seconds away from being gunned down by an invisible source. Tuymans has noted that he strived to make a “really dark” painting for a long time, and The Shore relays the profound, if gradual, influence of Francisco Goya on his work.
LUC TUYMANS ALLO! THE SHORE 30 January – 02 April 2015 DAVID ZWIRNER GALLERY LONDON www.davidzwirner.com