One of Europe’s most influential contemporary artists, Luc Tuymans is known for his distinctively opaque paintings that parlay photographs — his own and others he re-appropriated from source material — referencing some of history’s darkest moments and personalities, as well as metaphorical objects. However, he is not a photorealist. Distrust of mediated images forms the foundation for his work.
Tuymans, a Belgian artist who lives and works in Antwerp, emerged as a significant personality among contemporary figurative painters — including Peter Doig and Marlene Dumas — when they were thought to be an endangered species in the 1990s. On the occasion of his mid-career retrospective at Tate Modern in 2004, Tuymans said his work “specifically addresses the challenge of the inadequacy and ‘belatedness’ of painting.” Since the mid-1970s, Tuymans’ sparsely colored canvases helped redefine traditional genres of painting. His process continuously analyses and distills his images by making many drawings, photocopies, and watercolors before committing to the oil paintings.