The Arena

Luc Tuymans

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About the edition

This triptych was commissioned by Talbot Rice Gallery following their solo exhibition by Luc Tuymans in which this sequence of three monochrome images (Arena I, Arena II and Arena III) was screenprinted directly onto the gallery wall.

The imagery is drawn from three paintings by Tuymans, made for a major exhibition in Doha, Qatar and for which the sequence of frames was based on an earlier 8mm film work by Tuymans, partly inspired by shadowy scenes from Atropos from the Black Paintings by Francisco de Goya, originally painted directly onto the walls of a house by the Spanish artist.

Seen together, this sequence of three scenes recalls a cinematic reel, each giving a momentary glimpse into the narrative, but seeming both over exposed and obscure, none giving the full picture.

“Something is happening at the center of the scene that draws the attention of all the characters and the one at the forefront seems to want to alert us about it. The amazing feat here is that the central feature of both the scene itself and the paintings, although brightly lit, is invisible! We do not know what is happening even though we see that something intense, even dramatic, is going on. But who is looking? And what do we see? How do we represent what we see? Luc Tuymans…asks the question... and hides the answer in a flood of light.” Caroline Bourgeois, Curator (in catalogue for La Pelle, Luc Tuymans, Palazzo Grassi, Venice, 2019; p43)

The multiple stages of removal during the print process from the original subject, and diminishing clarity, positions the viewer as spectator in an ‘Arena’ of media that with each layer becomes more distorted and harder to read: a reference by the artist to the media’s distortion of facts and the need to put this in plain view.
 

Main image: Installation at Talbot Rice Gallery, photo by Chris Park

Year 2016
Edition of 30
Media Triptych, One colour screenprints on BFK Rives Blanc 250gsm paper
Dimensions Three prints, 76 x 56cm each
Signature The first print in each triptych is numbered and signed in pencil by the artist in the lower right corner.
Artist Luc Tuymans
Produced for Talbot Rice Gallery

About Luc Tuymans

Luc Tuymans (b. 1958) is a Belgian artist who lives and works in Antwerp. Tuymans is considered one of the most influential painters working today. His works are featured in leading public and private collections worldwide and are included in major solo and group exhibitions every year.

In 2019 the paintings Arena I, II and III (2004), formed part of Tuymans’ large solo retrospective La Pelle at Palazzo Grassi, Venice, organised by the Pinault Collection to coincide with the 2019 Venice Biennale.

About the project

Tuymans' solo exhibition at Talbot Rice Gallery in 2015 was his first in Scotland. This triptych was gifted by the artist to the University of Edinburgh’s art collection and featured in Birds of a Feather, an exhibition by Tuymans at Talbot Rice Gallery bringing together a selection of Tuymans' work with that of Scottish Enlightenment portrait painter, Henry Raeburn, and exploring themes of independence, enlightenment and social control.

 

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