PRINT October 1998


Most of us think of light as a positive force—benevolent, beatific, illuminating—even a symbol of goodness. As Belgian painter Luc Tuymans reminds us, it can also be harsh and corrosive. In his figurative canvases, an artificial, unflattering radiance, like the glare from a TV screen, seems to flood the imagery from behind. Sometimes, when the light is so bright that it virtually obliterates his subject matter, Tuymans’ work makes me think of that incredible scene in the film Terminator 2 in which a shock wave wipes out an entire metropolis, turning it into white dust. Tuymans showed me one such work on canvas (from his most recent series, “Security”) when I recently met up with him in his modest Antwerp studio. It depicts a drum kit lit so brightly from behind that the image is reduced to a skeletal abstraction.

If the title “Security” seems to bear little relation to the images in the

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