Luc Tuymans and Mickey Mouse

Luc Tuymans is, as they say, a painter’s painter, and in his show at Zwirner, his new paintings glow. Zwirner’s press release explains that Tuymans has turned his attention to Walt Disney’s legacy, examining how the animation studio grew into a family-oriented media giant with quasi-utopian ambitions. Zwirner asserts that this new series of paintings “offers a critique of the hegemonic control of economic and cultural capital and the implicit dangers in a reality based on the production of magic.” And I thought his work was about more painterly concerns. Tuymans’s paintings are beautiful and mysterious, but this kind of overblown, unsubstantiated statement about the artist’s intent should be restricted to grad school critiques.

At Bloomberg.com, Katya Kazakina agrees that the conceptual underpinnings outlined in the Zwirner press release are hard to apprehend in the work itself. “Tuymans’s paintings explore the global influence of one of the most successful U.S. entertainment brands, the Walt Disney Co. It’s not obvious. I happen to know that only because I read the gallery’s dense press release and spoke to the artist himself during a visit to his Antwerp studio last October. Nothing in the artist’s washed-out pastel palette or cropped, dissolving images suggests the vibrancy and cuteness of, say, the Little Mermaid or Mickey Mouse. His 11-1/2 by 18-foot oil- on-canvas, ‘Wonderland,’ is based on a photo of the entrance to Disneyland’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ cave in Anaheim, California. Even diehard Disney fans would be hard-pressed to recognize the location.” Read more.

On the blog Curiosity to Survive, a few Tuymans quotes from an interview in Art Review are posted. “Life is politics, basically, but you don’t just go to a gallery and put the words ‘art’ and ‘politics’ on the wall. An artwork should point in more than one direction, not be this sort of placating, self demonstrating, witnessing element. It is not important to convince people; they should convince themselves, they should look with their own eyes.” Read more.

“Luc Tuymans: Forever, The Management of Magic,” David Zwirner, New York, NY. Through March 22.
Related post: Tuymans: The new Mr. Big

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