Luc Tuymans, Le Mépris, 2016, Exhibition view, David Zwirner, 19th Street, New York. Courtesy David Zwirner, 19th Street, New York.
In an age in which he feels artists have become exceedingly demo¬cratic, Luc Tuymans adheres closely to the method he has honed over time—mercifully without, he says, a moment of 'painter's block.' Now fifty-eight, Tuymans had his first solo exhibition in his native Belgium when he was twenty-seven. His commitment to painting is sometimes discussed in near-messianic terms, and it is true that his work has never wavered from an approach to subject matter and technique that simultaneously flattens and deeply probes them. His paintings conjure up preexisting imagery (taken from the internet, Polaroids, magazine and newspaper clippings, TV footage, and other sources) with a light¬ness that can feel almost painful. In his own words, Tuymans 'Doesn't want to think on the surface of the painting': conceptualized over a long period of time, his works, once begun, are executed from the very faintest to the highest level of contrast. The resulting effects are often ghostly or suspiciously wan, making for an implicit critique of the times from which they are drawn.