A Matter of Skin
A cinephile painter who claims the “authentic forgery”
FIGURATIVE PAINTINGS HANG IN THE BALANCE
BETWEEN REALITY AND A REPRESENTATION
THAT IS FULL OF CONTENTS
Until January 6, 2020, Palazzo Grassi houses “The Skin”, the first solo show of Luc Tuymans (Mortsel, Belgium, 1958) in Italy. In line with the previous events organised by Fondation Pinault, and under the curatorship of Caroline Bourgeois, the artist has been given “carte blanche” for the exhibition.
The show is named after a novel of the same name by Curzio Malaparte, in whose house Jean-Luc Godard shot “Contempt”.
Tuymans is a cinephile and, in Le Mépris, he represents – in a cold way – that famous house on the island of Capri that has become a metaphor for ended love. In the movie, it is the love between Bardot and Piccoli that ends tragically.
The withering of a feeling, the anxieties and the inner tensions that sometimes end up in violence, the identity of the subject, of the object, and of the relationship with its representation are constants with Tuymans’s work. The choice of the subjects, but also of diaphanous and even immaterial colours, express the existential depth of these issues. The Flemish artist calls his painting “authentic forgery”, because he does not paint “from real life”, but represents “images of images”.
According to his friend, Marlene Dumas, “…his works speak of universal, psychological truths and, at the same time, of the specific and limited meaning of images as such, and of how we could call into question this comprehension”. The figurative paintings on display in the 27 rooms of Palazzo Grassi hang in the balance between reality and a representation that is full of content, almost as if the conceptual experience was contained in those figures, on a par with what happened to the great names of the past, from which Tuymans has drawn inspiration for the use of colour (Goya in Balone, Caravaggio and Rubens in Cook).
The coherence and the depth of this research also characterise the artist’s more political works, such as Schwarzheide, the large marble mosaic at the entrance of the building. Its title is taken from the name of a field of forced work in Germany. What did Albert Speer (portrayed with his eyes closed in meditation), the architect of the Nazi Party, know about the Holocaust?
Existential questions permeate works such as Hut, where the fragility of the house is represented, and the self-portrait Me. Big Brother and Twenty Seventeen refer to the cynicism of a contemporary society in which things such as success and wealth corrupt man.
The present age is also permeated by the violence of the clown killer (Balone) and by the (genetic) manipulation of nature (Isabel) as the two canaries, Isabel and Orange, suggest.
THE ARTIST TRANSLATES HUMAN
SUFFERING INTO IMAGES, BUT
CAN ALSO OPEN TO SERENITY
Tuymans translates human suffering. However, there is also a work that recalls Morandi and that is treated like a watercolour by Cézanne; it is called Still Life and has the power to calm us down. This monumental work was created after the tragedy of September 11, 2001.
Life, again. Because life is not ephemeral and fragile, but, on the contrary, it resists and has resilience.
This is Luc Tuymans’s “The Skin”.
A CURA DI
FINO AL 06/01/2020