Luc Tuymans

Dog, 2016
Doha I, 2016
Doha II, 2016
Doha III, 2016
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal

Luc Tuymans is considered one of the most significant and influential painters working today. His brief career as a filmmaker in the early 1980s led him to introduce new techniques such as cropping, close-ups, framing, and sequencing into his paintings. These remain key elements in his work. Tuymans focuses on the mediation and translation of images. Many of his images appear blurred or reduced, in whitewashed colours, as if they were viewed at several removes or camouflaged in some way. His paintings are frequently based on existing photographs or film stills drawn from the media, which the artist then reworks, rephotographs, and eventually alters to such an extent that the original is barely recognizable (if not for the title of the work). This approach bears witness to Tuymans’ belief that representation can only be partial and subjective, and that meaning must be pieced together—like memories—through isolated fragments.

For La Biennale de Montréal, Tuymans has created four new works, including the series entitled Doha. The three Doha paintings depict the empty galleries of the Qatar Museums Gallery Al Riwaq, pursuing the representation of empty spaces, which is a recurring feature in his work (as with Gas Chamber, 1986, and The Green Room, 1994, for example). During his major survey exhibition in Doha in 2015, Tuymans had the walls of the exhibition halls painted blue, reminiscent of the dim galleries at the neighbouring Museum of Islamic Art. The empty blue-coloured spaces might represent Tuymans’ interest in the ephemeral and ungraspable concept of prophecy—the undying idea that cannot be eradicated but instead lays dormant for a while, only to be picked up again at a later time, in another place—and a first attempt at transforming this idea into a concrete visual image.