Monday, June 27, 2011

Luc Tuymans

Luc Tuymans Exhibits for the First Time in Spain at Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Málaga

MALAGA.- “Art is not derived from art. Art derives from reality.” Tuymans’s words constitute a statement of intent and a clear explanation of the nature of his work in which he aims to evoke and insinuate but in which it is the viewer’s responsibility to fill in the gaps that have been deliberately left there and to construct his or her own narrative. Tuymans is a committed artist and his work engages with events that have marked contemporary society despite the existence of a collective desire for amnesia that aims to forget or to distort these events within the context of a society that at times seems closer to the deceptive reality presented by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World.

The CAC Málaga is presenting Retratos y vegetación, the first exhibition devoted to Luc Tuymans in Spain. It comprises a selection of 16 oil paintings of different sizes that reveal the technique that has made Tuymans a key reference point for a new generation of figurative artists for whom painting is the optimum means of expression, contrary to those who still consider it a conservative one that contradicts the heterogeneous nature of contemporary art. Fluid brushstrokes (Soldier, 1999), diffused lines (The Rumour, 2001) and muted colours (Singing Flowers, 2008) are used to envelop the figures in a tense silence in the manner of a metaphor for the fog that seems to shroud historical and collective memory on occasions.

Tuymans has focused on painting in his work since the mid-1980s. However, he abandoned this medium for a period in order to focus entirely on filmmaking. That passing phase left its mark on his subsequent output, which he has meticulously created through preparatory drawings, photographs, slides, stills from films and a wide range of techniques that have functioned to enrich his compositions.

For Fernando Francés, director of the CAC Málaga: “Many people have described Tuymans’s painting as pessimistic, perhaps due to the violent, crude force behind it, which he uses as a vehicle to dissect reality in a manner devoid of grandiloquence and moralising intent. It is clear that we are in the presence of one of the figures most admired by both established artists such as Alex Katz and by younger ones for whom Tuymans is now one of the legendary names of international painting.”

In Tuymans’s paintings ideas are not explicitly revealed but rather emerge through concealed allusions and indirect references. He offers us apparently innocuous images but ones charged with intensity, as a result of which they generate disquiet and disturb the viewer. Thus behind the imperturbable gaze of the figure in Secrets (1990) lies Albert Speer, architect of the Third Reich and armaments minister under the Nazi regime. The restrained way that Tuymans depicts Speer, with his eyes closed, encourages us to find out the secrets referred to in the title. Evidence (2005) depicts the unidentified victim of a Russian serial killer. The diffused brushwork and almost unrecognisable face reveal Tuymans’s aims of insinuating rather than showing and of referring to memory. Portrait (2000) refers to the photographs of dead people that are used to announce funerals in Belgium.

Luc Tuymans (born Mortsel, Belgium, 1958) is heir to the extensive northern European pictorial tradition and Jan van Eyck is one of the artists whom he most admires. Other artists particularly esteemed by Tuymans include Velázquez, El Greco and Zurbarán and their influence is evident in many of his works. Tuymans’s paintings have been exhibited in leading museums and art centres such as the MoMA, New York, Tate Modern, London, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Artwork shown: Secrets, 1990. Oil on canvas, 52×37cm; Within,
Oil on Canvas, 223 x 243cm

Saturday, June 25, 2011


MEXICO CITY (AP).- A small, remote-controlled camera lowered into an early Mayan tomb in southern Mexico has revealed an apparently intact funeral chamber with offerings and red-painted wall murals, researchers said Thursday.

Footage of the approximately 1,500-year-old tomb at the Palenque archaeological site showed a series of nine figures depicted in black on a vivid, blood-red background. Archaeologists say the images from one of the earliest ruler's tombs found at Palenque will shed new light on the early years of the once-great city state.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History said archaeologists have known about the tomb since 1999, but have been unable to enter it because the pyramid standing above it is unstable and breaking into the chamber could damage the murals.

It said the floor appears to be covered with detritus and it is not immediately evident in the footage if the tomb contains recognizable remains. But archaeologist Martha Cuevas said the jade and shell fragments seen on the video are "part of a funerary costume."

The chamber was found in a heavily deteriorated pyramid complex known as the Southern Acropolis, in a jungle-covered area of Palenque not far from the Temple of Inscriptions, where the tomb of a later ruler, Pakal, was found in the 1950s.

While Pakal's tomb featured a famous and heavily carved sarcophagus, no such structure is seen in the footage of the tomb released Thursday. The institute said in a statement that "it is very probable that the fragmented bones are lying directly on the stones of the floor."

But Cuevas said the discovery shed new light on early rulers, and its proximity to other burial sites suggested the tomb may be part of a funerary complex.

"All this leads us to consider that the Southern Acropolis was used as a royal necropolis during that period," Cuevas said.

Susan Gillespie, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Florida who was not involved in the project, said "this is an important find for Palenque and for understanding Early Classic Maya history and politics," in part because the later rulers who made the city-state larger tended to build atop their predecessors' temples and tombs, making it hard to get at them.

"Palenque was a relatively important western Maya capital in the Early Classic, but with the buildup during the time of Pakal and some of his successors, those accomplishments were buried and thus difficult to assess, buried literally by Late Classic structures atop Early Classic ones," Gillespie wrote.

The later rulers wrote almost obsessively about Palenque's history in long stone inscriptions, but Gillespie noted that "finding archaeological confirmation of the earlier kings has been extremely difficult."

The tomb's floor occupies about 5 square meters (yards), with a low, Mayan-arch roof of overlapping stones. Experts say it probably dates to between 431 and 550 A.D., and could contain the remains of K'uk' Bahlam I, the first ruler of the city-state.

The tomb's existence was revealed by a shaft found near the top of the ruined pyramid, leading downward. But it was too narrow to provide any kind of view of the chamber. In late April, researchers lowered the tiny two-inch-long camera into the tomb using the six-inch (15-cm) wide shaft.

While the general public had not seen images of the interior of the tomb, video of it was made after the chamber was detected in 1999, noted David Stuart, a specialist in Mayan epigraphy.

The images had circulated among researchers and been posted on the internet, and Stuart said that some evidence suggests the tomb "is the burial of a noted female ruler of Palenque named Ix Yohl Ik'nal, based on the date and on the identities of ancestral figures painted on the walls."

"The female ruler is mentioned in a number of the historical texts of the site," Stuart wrote.

It would not be the first tomb of a female noble found at Palenque; in 1994 archaeologists found the tomb of a woman dubbed The Red Queen because of the red pigment covering her tomb. But it has never been established that she was a ruler of Palenque, and her tomb dates from a later period, between 600 and 700 A.D.