Aptly titled, The Return is Luc Tuymans’s second large-scale solo exhibition at De Pont Museum in Tilburg. The first took place in 1995, an important moment early in Tuymans’s career when the artist was beginning to be recognized for his contribution to a major revival of painting. Featuring a broad span of works dating from 1975 to the present and organized in close collaboration with Tuymans, The Return explores the development of his quiet, restrained, and at times unsettling approach—one that engages equally with questions of history and its representation and with more quotidian subject matter. As the artist explained in an interview with Jason Farago, "I had clearly made a decision not to make art for art’s sake. I wasn’t interested in slotting into a tradition of modernism or postmodernism—to try to position myself in such a way was not an option. The only option was to work from the real."
Alongside significant early and mid-career works, The Return includes a series of six black-and-white portraits of anonymous faces from 2018-2019 that will be on view for the first time. While three of these works are based on photographs by contemporary American artist Arne Svenson, of forensic facial reconstruction sculptures, the others are sourced from images of missing persons that Tuymans found on a police website. The resulting portraits depict individuals who in reality may or may not exist, imbuing them with an uncanny presence. "There’s a surgical element involved," the artist explains of the strangers he chose to paint. "They have to give me ... an instinct. I must think: This is interesting, or weird. I have to paint it in order to understand it."
The Return is being curated by De Pont’s director Hendrik Driessen, who organized Tuymans’s first exhibition at the museum in 1995. Driessen says of the artist’s work, "He has put his finger on problems of our time, by referring to past events or to current ones without depicting them, but rather evoking historical issues. They freeze a moment in time in such a way that they evoke a lot more than just that single moment he’s chosen."
The Return is Dreissen’s final exhibition at De Pont museum, of which he was the founding director in 1989. He has curated a number of major exhibitions by David Zwirner artists, among them, at the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Donald Judd: Sculptures 1965-1987, which travelled to a number of venues in Europe in 1987–1988, and Richard Serra: 10 Sculptures for the van Abbe in 1988. A major solo exhibition by Marlene Dumas titled Nom de Personne / Name No Names was presented at De Pont in 2001.
Image: Luc Tuymans, Exhibit #1, 2002