Chicago

Luc Tuymans

The Renaissance Society

There is scarcely a genre of painting that Luc Tuymans does not appropriate and turn inside out. “Superstition,” a selection of his work from 1985 to the present, included 20 smallish canvases that ranged from portraits to painterly abstractions, from landscapes to interiors, to hard-edged pattern paintings, cityscapes, figure paintings, still lifes, nudes, and serial images, all infused with Tuymans’ curious ability to remain simultaneously detached and engaged. The multiplicity of pictorial effects and narratives is mesmerizing. In plumbing the rhetoric of painting, Tuymans finds all its strategies at once full of possibilities and largely emptied of meaning; this indeterminacy is not a reflection of ennui but of the artist’s clinical and sober autopsy of painting’s corpse.

Take, for example, Gas Chamber, 1986. This small canvas, barely covered with a washy and monochromatic coat of sepia,

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