food in the arts




 TUYMANS, Luc/ ARTISTS 1900 onwards/ MAIN ART

film and food

(b. 1958, Antwerpen,)

literature and food

music and food

photography and food
Superstition, von Luc Tuymans -
 Luc tuymans - new édition -
Die Zeit  (Time) 1988

Oil on cardboard

Private Collection

Still-Life  2002

Oil on canvas (347 x 500)

James and Jacqui Erskine

In Still-Life, First shown at the exhibition Documenta 11 in Kassel, Germany in 2002, the idea of banality becomes larger than life. In fact it is taken to an impossible extreme, becoming an icon, an almost purely cerebral painting, more like a light projection.

After the events of 9/11, it became clear to Tuymans that the images introduced into the world at that moment were fantastically precise. The attacks were also an assault on aesthetics. His response was to create a sort of anti-picture, with an idyll, albeit an inherently twisted one. "A picture where what had been killed mingles with the familiar, and which recedes into virtual abstraction, without making any moral appeal, or becoming truly abstract, or just losing itself in a vague, formulaic sympathy."

Instead of describing the void as aesthetic, Tuymans displays it as something known to us. Rather than refer to a psychoanalytical point of view, he has bourgeois society in mind. "I had great fun making the painting because, although it is by far my largest, it represents the least."

The paintings he was making then were also an affirmation of a West European cultural identity. "I wanted to respond on a political level to the so-called discourse with an intentionally apolitical formula, so I chose sublimation as my method."

The important four-part work Die Zeit, is Tuyman's first 'grey-tone' painting, a colour scheme that has become associated with his works addressing historical subjects. Presented like a sequence of disjointed film stills, these paintings explore the idea of time - passing time, frozen time, or even a sense of timelessness. The words 'Nichts in Sicht' ('nothing in view') are written across the top of the first painting (which resembles a prison camp from the viewpoint of a look-out post, and the last painting includes the cut-out painting of Reinhard Heydrich, Nazi chief of the Gestapo, significantly masked by a painted-on pair of sunglasses.

The penultimate picture is a blown-up image of spinach pills, which formed a typical part of the diet in Europe during World War Two.

All images © The artist, courtesy Zeno X Gallery and David Zwirner, New York. Photo credit: Felix Tirry