Gareth Harris's interview with Luc Tuymans at The Art Newspaper covers both Tuymans's art practice and hopeful career strategies. Tuymans’s first major Russian show opens at the Red October Chocolate Factory this month. Twenty new works, first shown in Brussels earlier this year, examine TV reality shows and the internet. The exhibition, part of the Moscow Biennale, forms part of a Tuymans onslaught this autumn with the artist’s first US retrospective also opening this month at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Ohio and an exhibition curated by Tuymans and the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei opening at Bozar in Brussels.
TAN: Do you believe art historians will credit your muted palette with creating a new kind of reductive form? Or would you rather they labelled you a post-modern history painter?
LT: Well, neither of those. I would be much happier if academics understood the idea of understatement. Art is not something you have to imply is political. Art is not political, life is political. Isms, such as modernism, post-modernism, etc, they’re just not applicable to the world we live in. The whole practice of painting is about two things: timing and precision....
TAN: So would you agree that your work is deeply personal rather than historical?
LT: I think it tends to be more of the former than the latter. Of course, it’s been triggered by things of which I’m not totally aware, otherwise I wouldn’t do it. Every visual is in opposition to language because if we could say everything, why make a picture of it?
TAN: So you are ultimately concerned with the fragile nature of memory in relation to both personal and historical events?
LT: It always remains fragile. Every aspect of history is partly false, it’s never complete, history writing can only be factual to a point...
TAN: Would you ever make works with certain collectors in mind?
LT: No, I would never do that. What is more important is that together with my dealers, we’ve always guarded the work in the sense that it does not crop up too much at auction and when it does, it sells for the right price, or we just buy it back. I’m very well aware of the game with Charles Saatchi who bought pieces on the secondary market for his “Triumph of Painting” exhibition in 2005 and then dumped them after the show. The US tour should lead to steady sales.
Curated by co-curated by Madeleine Grynsztejn and Helen Molesworth, "Luc Tuymans" travels from the Wexner Center to SFMOMA, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.