Luc Tuymans

Biography of Luc Tuymans

Luc Tuymans (born 1958 in Mortsel, BE) is a hugely influential Belgian painter currently living and working in Antwerp. He is notorious for his observations of historical and contemporary manifestations of horror. Violence and stillness both underlie his works, which show a readiness to deal with these disturbing issues, continuing the tradition of Belgian artists such as James Ensor or Léon Spillaert, whose work thrived on the strange and the sinister.


Tuymans' images, which include both banal motifs from everyday life, and explosive historical themes, can be grasped only with a highly focused gaze that goes beyond surface indistinctness. His paintings often depict bleached out images that seem to barely surface, resolving and dissolving before the eye, images that are as much felt as seen. They reveal a superior, enigmatic level of meaning.


Typically inflammatory subjects that Tuymans has explored are the Holocaust and the Ku Klux Klan. Tuymans calls his paintings "immaterial pictures". Sourcing many of his images from film and photography, Tuymans sees celluloid and paint as equally influential. His use of the formal techniques of photography and film—editing, cropping, and full-page bleeds—promotes an unsettling energy in his work. Tuymans represented Belgium at the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001.

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