More About this Item


B. 1958

diameter: 28 in. 71.2 cm.

oil on canvas

Executed in 1994.


David Zwirner Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above circa 1994


New York, David Zwirner Gallery, Luc Tuymans: Superstition, October - December 1994


Luc Tuymans' pictures compress separate layers of contingent meaning and seek to follow the ambiguous associations of free thought. Thriving on the hidden depths of the seemingly banal, like the sinister history often lurking beneath the polished veneer of Gerhard Richter's photo-paintings, Tuymans presents a partial view of the world that leaves the viewer strangely vulnerable. Freed from modernist commitment through a stylised disinterest in bold colour and grand painterly gesture, Tuymans encodes his compositions with signs of simplicity and instils a feeling of residual foreboding. His passion for cinema during the early 1980s engendered in him a fundamental awareness of the extent to which the meaning of an isolated film image is dependent on those which immediately precede and follow it. In other words, its meaning usually lies elsewhere. This heightened appreciation of narrative context informs the layered meanings of Tuymans' paintings, which exude the ambiguity of an 'interrupted film' as opposed to the conventional frozen drama of a 'charged moment'. As the artist has stated, "pictures, if they are to have effect, must have tremendous intensity of silence~the silence before the storm."

Tuymans describes the process of thought and layers of context infused within Premonition. "At that time I was preoccupied with John Casey, a serial killer who murdered several children but who was also a painter. His paintings could be purchased through the mail~. Casey always painted pictures of himself as a clown~. What interested me here was the idea of the clown as a disguise, the nature of friendliness as something deceptive, and of dangerousness, which is connected to anonymity. The stereotype of the clown's face is enhanced by the sunglasses. The tondo, the round form is related to the idea of a lens, of focused perception. This is linked to perceiving something through a keyhole." (The artist discussing Premonition in Exh. Cat., Bern, Kunstmuseum, Premonition: Luc Tuymans, Drawings, 1997, p. 148)
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