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2016.09.23 Fri, by
Luc Tuymans – Scramble
25 years of collaboration

[Press Release]

Zeno X Gallery is pleased to present Scramble, the new exhibition by Luc Tuymans that will illuminate twenty-five years of collaboration with the gallery. Ten new and fourteen historical works are presented in alternation throughout the four exhibition rooms. A new catalogue also provides a splendid overview of the sixteen exhibitions that Tuymans has made at Zeno X.

Scramble shows a crumpled piece of paper from an advertising supplement with foodstuffs. The small, colorful prop – in stark contrast to the dark background – is enlarged to such monumental proportions that it seems to acquire a new status. The work also supplied the title of the exhibition – a reference to the combination of new and less recent works.

During installation of the show “Nice: Luc Tuymans in the Menil Collection” in Houston in 2013, Tuymans re-photographed every portrait present with his iPhone. This resulted in the four new portraits entitled Insert I, II, III & IV. The portrait Insert I, for example, is a close-up of the work Petrus & Paulus (1998), and Insert II a detail of the painting Frank (2003), after a Polaroid Tuymans made of Frank Demaegd in his car. Insert III refers to the portrait that Tuymans painted in 1994 of the well-known Nazi Joachim von Ribbentrop. Insert IV, finally, is based on the triptych Käthe Grüsse of 1990. The intensity of the portraits arises from the three layers of reality that are captured in each image: the original painting, the flattened reality of the iPhone photo, and the physical reality of the new painting. In this way Tuymans retraces his own steps and meta-reflects on his own oeuvre.

Brokaat depicts the richly decorated gown of St Donatian in the painting Madonna with Canon Joris van der Paele (1436) by Jan Van Eyck. Tuymans has often stressed that the influence of and his appreciation for Van Eyck is greater than that for Baroque painters like Rubens, Van Dyck, and Jordaens, who are held in such high regard in his hometown Antwerp.

Mountains seems to depict a particular landscape, but in reality it is based on a model made by the artist himself, consisting of aluminum foil and heaps of potting soil. Like the work The Louvre, which depicts the eponymous museum, both works play with scale. The photographed image acts as an intermediary and enhances confusion as to the actual size of the subject. Both images are moreover constructed, in the form of a ‘still life’ and a simulation of the museum in its primal form, taken from a documentary.

Green Light is based on a photo that offers a glimpse of an interior through a window. The flash of the photo and the reflection occupy – as is often the case – a prominent place on the canvas. Tuymans often uses light to conceal his subjects rather than highlight them. The flash of the camera also betrays the contemporary layer in his work and underscores the current omnipresence of the screen standing between reality and us.

The Priest is an image cut out of a religious poster depicting hands and holy water. Christian iconography has turned out to be an important motif – not only in this exhibition, but in his entire oeuvre.

In 1990 Tuymans had his first exhibition, Suspended, in Zeno X Gallery when it was still in the space opposite the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Antwerp. It was followed by the exhibitions Disenchantment (1991), Der Diagnostische Blick (1992), Intolerance (1993), At Random (1994), Heimat (1995), Necklace (1997), Illegitimate (1998), The Passion (1999), The Promise (2000), NIKS (2003), Les Gilles de Binche (2005), Les Revenants (2007), The Twenty Seventh of January Two Thousand and Eleven (2011), and Twice (2013), together with Marlene Dumas.

Later this year he will have exhibitions at LAM Musée d’art moderne, d’art contemporain et d’art brut in Lille and the National Portrait Gallery in London. He will also participate in the 9th Biennale of Montréal. In addition, he is organizing an exhibition on the work of James Ensor at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

Currently on view until September 18 at the MAS in Antwerp is a solo exhibition entitled Glasses. Tuymans has also had solo exhibitions at the Qatar Museums in Doha (2015), Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh (2015), the Menil Collection in Houston (2013), Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus (2011), BOZAR in Brussel (2011), SFMOMA in San Francisco (2010), Dallas Museum of Art (2010), Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (2010), Moderna Museet in Malmö (2009), Wiels in Brussels (2009), Haus der Kunst in Munich (2008), Kunsthalle Budapest (2007), Fundação de Serralves in Porto (2006), Tate Modern in London (2004), Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich (2003), Kunstverein Hannover (2003), Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin (2001), etc.