Luc Tuymans/David Zwirner Gallery/2005
Inscrutable, intractable Luc Tuymans cultivates an austere momentum and gets more out of less than any painter alive…wrestling down post modern, multi-culti mania he has created an art pared to the bare essentials, think of a Balanchine ballet. His deft work is a relief, a tease, an insider’s reference point for all that is hip, painterly and politically charged.
Delineating a consistent, pervasive unease Tuymans works are vaporized remnants, spare membranes that alternately ‘bait and switch’ the viewer’s focus…utilizing the imagery of found photographs, untainted by the contaminant subjectivity, with the plastic relief of Tuymans’ pliant, ‘hand’ moving consummately through every painting. This subversive high wire act tantalizes. The viewer is shell shocked, a deer in front of the headlights…his works are a mute scar, a ‘sonic welt’.
Morandi with a wily, bad attitude? Maybe, but Soutine he’s not and unlike his big sister Marlene Dumas, a provocateur who wrenches a range of coloration from her gorgeous, smutty palette Tuymans resides in a succinct quiet, ever so carefully evoking silent, haunting reprisal. He paints with the ashes of post war Europe then downloads universal anxiety and combines the northern predilection for ‘sober’ into serial utterances so perfectly loose, yet airtight. Random markers…no heroic stance, no histrionics…just a fragile, steady plaint, a reminder. Where’s the ‘insight’ as the painter’s inquisitor’s bulb burns brightly? ‘Proper’, the recent 2005 show at the David Zwirner gallery is imagery suffused with klieg light…Condi, the genteel table, the canopy bed, the ballroom dancers, S. Croce…Do these touchstones qualify for a check list unveiling what’s ‘Proper’? Is this a necklace of mendacious, amoral evil parading as rootless, sublime anomie? Each painting is at one and the same time a disconnect and then a steppingstone to a soft spoken allusion just beyond one’s reach…a relentless unfiltered honesty…political insight as moral reprisal with imagery all dried fragments…bloodless. ‘Proper’ meets all criteria for Tuyman’s intentioned autism, illuminating a dissertation on deadly propriety. Where is the victim…the trail of blood?
The gossamer wings with which Luc Tuymans utilizes to convey this rooted posture become a deep, residual ache… Holding his breath, cold endurance is key to Tuymans…Somewhere, somehow Luc Tuymans is relentlessly holding on by the skin of his teeth…
Stephanie Bell Behnke 2006