Luc Tuymans, 4 PM, silkscreen print in 12 colours on paper 2012, Studio Luc Tuymans
Luc Tuymans’ first big overview of his graphical work in the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag in the Netherlands opens as simple though layered as his work self. The first thing you see through the glass entry door is a 12 colour silkscreen that reminds of the shape of a window. The window seems to be blocked by a curtain and could be either at night or by day.
It is a great start of the exhibition and a great metaphor for Tuymans’ work. He uses found images from different subjects like Belgium colonialism and World War II, and transforms them into some kind of windows onto history and memory. He creates different levels of reality within both one as well as in series of work. To him painting is about the use of layers, which is also visible in his other works. His graphical works are not one or two layered but he at least uses four. Also his installations – which he creates using these graphical works – are works on paper put onto another layer of material before it is put on the wall. Of all of these works there are some great examples on show.
That is also perhaps why this show works quite well within these traditional small rooms. It is like exploring a thick old book about history. Every time you enter another room you find something else, something different.
The exhibition shows a nice variety of works, both within the graphical field – which is the main subject of this show – as well as his complete body of works. They are grouped together on theme or feeling. The certain atmosphere they have sets the atmosphere in that specific room within the exhibition. One contains a painting of the St. Peter’s Basilica making the mood quite gracious, while another room contains a painting and some prints that look like holiday pictures.
The best thing about it all is actually the fact that his paintings and lithography’s for example are shown together. It gives you an amazing insight about how the painting was inspired on the experimental graphical work, or the other way around how he decided to create graphical work from an existing painting. This glimpse of his working process is amazingly educative. It is both interesting for the art lover and the student as well as for the ignorant visitors.
Though most people in the museum do not seem to care. They pass by as in a dull and none appealing street. Is this because of the subtle use of colours in Tuymans works, through which it seems to dissolve into its surroundings? Perhaps. Is it the place it was presented, stuffed away on the lower floor of the building? Perhaps.
But it seems to me that they just do not care to see it, they can not place it within a certain old fashioned box. As just one door away from the exhibition an even more hidden room of works was present. Paintings by well known impressionistic and last century Dutch painters filled a treasure chamber like vault. Here crowds came and went, the same who ignored the works of Tuymans. Which is a shame, as his work does deserve a closer look. Perhaps than they will find that these rooms contain a bigger treasure than all those dusty old vaults.
[…] an old love of mine once said:
just give me the one thing
I know you can’t give me;
give me a simple yes or no.
I never liked either of these terms
and if you’re not prepared for a
never-ending answer, don’t ask me no questions.
I’m not deliberately hiding something.
Take your healing hands off my broken sentences.
- Marlene Dumas, Miss Interpreted (1992)
a series of photographs in which I returned pictures from my mother taken in 1974 to their original place. almost forthy years ago she visited the city of Berlin for the very first time, at the age of twenty with the family. now I visit Berlin for the very first time, also twenty but alone. a lot of things have changed since then.