More on Luc Tuymans – preparation for Assignment 2

Of all the artist’s I have looked at so far I feel Luc Tuyman’s is the one I need to focus on and try to understand more about his process and methods of working.  I watched the following videos – two are Tuymans talking and another has two critics reviewing some of his work.

The Guardian ‘Meet the artist – Luc Tuymans’

‘Luc Tuymans, The Shore’ presented by Grace Adam & Joshua White for the Art Channel

UCL Slade Contemporary Art Lecture – Luc Tuymans 03/02/16

These videos provided me with a mine of information. Listening to Tuymans talking about the way he works was incredibly helpful for me.  The points from the Guardian interview video that feel really important are:-

  • He uses found/discovered/second-hand imagery
  • His work is described as terse, vitriolic and as having a strange perversity
  • He conceives his work as a gallery show – every piece stands out by itself but when first showing it in a gallery it has to make sense, to work together.  Need to draw the audience in.
  • Normal way of working is to paint with the lightest colour then build in contrast
  • Where the contrast was high in a particular piece he had to make indications where the colour would be, put in the contrast and then go back to build the rest up – a reverse way of working for him
  • normally starts at one point and works way out with the tonal level
  • he uses the first colour (light one) to make a drawing in the wet paint and then indicate all the lighter colours
  • painting is all about layers – always about layerment, always about precision and timing.  These are exact elements, it’s a very physical thing, it’s a physicality that you cannot totally explain.
  • You can repaint everything – technically but intentionally it is no longer there


‘The Shore’ review for the Art Channel.  Points to remember and incorporate myself:-

  • The use of uncanny in painting – it has the generic and the particular.
  • Unearthly glow, strange lights.  Lots of space left.
  • architectural dissonance inn the space that draws the eye in.
  • Issei Sagawa 2014 –  back story is deeply disturbing.  The gap between the physical features and our perception of it. There’s an implicit threat.  Very disconcerting but also generic.  The colours are light and floral – want to look at a beautiful painting of a man’s who’s carried out horrific acts – that in itself provides lots to contemplate
  • In ‘The Shore’ Tuyman’s wiped a lot of the paint so you can see through the layers.  Looked at from an observational point – drained of colour. Genre of horror, threat, fear, anxiety – connecting it with the Issei Sagawa painting. It is almost cinematic.


UCL lecture by Tuymans

  • repeats that there should be a correlation between the work shown together – each piece should be singular in it’s own right but also part of a whole to create a vacuum so that the audience is drawn in and engaged.
  • ‘The Shore’ – comes partly out of his fascination with the black paintings of Goya
  • ‘Prisoners of War’ 2001 – created from the only ‘real’ image he saw during that war – shows the distortion of the media
  • try and keep ambiguity and indifference in work
  • Using the models to paint from – experience of omnipotence with the things that are small as you can overpower the situation completely
  • Scale has to be decisively thought of and felt
  • Always give shows and paintings titles
  • violence has created much more imagery than happiness
  • the cruelest way to torture someone is to do it with a great deal of tenderness.

These points are not exact quotes from the videos – they are from my own notes whilst watching and I have, therefore, taken certain lines said as I feel they are really applicable either to my work now or as ideas for me to contemplate for my work going forward.

There is a power to Tuyman’s work which is something I want to try and capture in my own.  I must remember the idea of layers – I feel the potency within the work is intensified with the layers.  Listening to him speak of his work I also realise the importance of the back story to my work.  That there needs to be a weight of research and connection behind the painting.  So, for example, as I continue with my Angela Johnson project I am hooked into this idea of the collector, and of obsession. I, therefore, need to seek out psychological theories on the nature of fixation/obsession/stalking/voyeurism to inform where I go with this project alongside my other explorations.



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