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Luc Tuymans

Backyard

2002

Luc Tuyman’s figurative paintings feature compositions influenced by film, television, and photography; he often employs foreshortening, renders his subjects close up, or tightly crops them within the frame of his works. Much of his imagery is deliberately ambiguous; landscapes, still lifes, and figures do not so much offer specific narratives as they present opportunities to contemplate the historical roles or political implications of people, places, or objects. Especially interested in Belgium’s colonial history, Tuymans makes paintings that reflect on both the banality of political and cultural violence and the universal experience of human suffering. Backyard depicts an aerial view of a suburban landscape emptied of human presence. Rendered in a muted palette, it has a washed-out look that suggests desolation or loneliness, while long shadows cast by the trees suggest the darkening of the day, lending the scene a quality of uneasiness, as if something has happened or is about to happen.

Luc Tuymans (b. 1958, Mortsel, Belgium; lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium)
Backyard, 2002
Oil on canvas
54 3/4 x 44 7/8 in.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Purchased with funds provided by The Buddy Taub Foundation, Jill and Dennis Roach, Directors

What you can do with painting is make a more understated type of imagery that approaches an idea from a different angle. It’s another medium, in another timescale. And that produces a cognitive image which is sort of branded in the brain. It has something to do with the idea of remembering the imagery but it’s also to do with reconstructing the memory, because memory is something that is completely inadequate. That is where painting also comes in because it has its own inadequacy in that it is never complete. —Luc Tuymans

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