David Zwirner, London
5 October–17 November 2012
by ANNA McNAY
Belgian painter Luc Tuymans (born 1958) is the one who has been appointed to carry out this task, with an exhibition of his haunting scenes, inspired by the 1942 film, The Moon and Sixpence, itself an adaptation of Somerset Maugham’s 1919 novel, loosely based on the life and Tahitian travels of Paul Gauguin (1848-1903). Albeit with none of the tropical colour of Gauguin’s own works, these dark and deliberately unfocused scenes nevertheless greet the visitor with flair.
The series came about as something of an accident, when Tuymans was asked, a year ago, to make a painting for A Room for London, the one-bedroom boat installation perched atop the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Having recently completed a series criticising the Congo and Belgium’s role there, Tuymans decided to continue with the theme of colonialism, but in a less direct way. The works in this series deal also with his longstanding fascination with film, the projected image, and the very particular light that comes with it. “I am a product of the television generation,” explains Tuymans, reminiscing about when his parents acquired their first colour screen and he saw the Albert Lewin film, which, at its climax, when the doctor of the deceased stockbroker-turned-artist returns to his studio, moments before his Tahitian widow sets fire to everything, turns from black and white into stunning Technicolor.
For his Allo!series of paintings (all 2012), Tuymans first made digital stills of the screen – itself displaying mock ups of Gauguin’s Tahitian works – then rephotographed these with his iPhone, in turn capturing his own shadow which became an integral part of the final works, which he then painted on to canvas, largely with just one brush, and using only five colours. “[This is] an aberration within my own oeuvre!” says Tuymans. “A challenge! I get easily bored, and, for numbers II and III, I even had to reproduce the same background twice.”
Allo! VI contains a mass of grey space, which, close up, looks like nothing, but, as you move further away, a sense of contours and depth emerges. Similarly, with the blurry brushstrokes, it is necessary to step back to focus the image and make its contents appear. Perhaps this is another reference to the pixellation of the television screen?
As well as the Allo! series, the show also displays a couple of isolated works, Peaches and Technicolor (both 2012), which use, as their source material, the earliest vintage Technicolor images Tuymans was able to find on YouTube. Again, unimpressive at close range, with their pencilled outlines and blocks of colour, from afar, the areas of uncovered white canvas shine through, almost incandescent.
Tuymans was one of the first artists to be represented by Zwirner after he opened his New York gallery back in 1993. This is his ninth solo show with the gallery, and will overlap with his tenth, The Summer is Over, opening in November in New York. If he continues to be this prolific, one thing is for sure, neither Tuymans nor his audience will get bored.
Joseph Beuys Lives
At this time, it is salutary to look back again at the volumes of Studio International and to be reminded of the loss of this artist. Reproduced here is the cover of the March 1986 issue (vol 199, no. 1012), featuring a photograph by Nigel Maudsley. Richard Demarco's current article, a review/reminiscence of Beuys, can also be found on our home page. From his obituary, we re-quote the memory of his first encounter with Beuys:
Psycho Buildings at the Hayward Gallery
The Hayward Gallery, London, under director Ralph Rugoff, has organised another trailblazing exhibition, 'Psycho Buildings', which is drawing the crowds. The purpose of the exhibition is given as to explore the relationship between art and architecture and never has there been a more appropriate time, where visions in architecture have become more and more marked - by economic and financial swings - and roundabouts.
In August, this website featured an assessment of the high quality of the collections at Pallant House, Chichester. As promised in that article, here follows a more detailed appraisal of the new architecture of Pallant House itself.
Tales of two cities: Berlin, Dresden
These are stirring times for architecture 'watchers' in Germany's two famous cities; Berlin, the capital, and Dresden, culture capital of the south-east. The re-opening of the neo-Baroque and now restored Bode Museum in Berlin, sitting on its island and commanding like a prow the curve of the river Spree, required a restoration of well over
Book review: Landscape Design and the Experience of Motion
This important publication, edited by the director of Dumbarton Oaks, Michel Conan, fills a vital gap in the literature of garden and landscape design, and is surely an essential for all landscape and garden libraries. The series of papers, from the 24th Colloquium, is now edited together, ranging from case studies of particular examples, such as the Roman Water Garden (Sperlonga and Tivoli), by Ann Kuttner, to a new study of Stourhead by Michael Charlesworth.