New York

Luc Tuymans

David Zwirner | 519 West 19th Street

BELGIUM WAS HARDLY one of the more ambitious forces of nineteenth-century Western colonialism. Compared with the British, Spanish, Dutch, and French, Belgians entered the land-grab race rather late: King Leopold II didn't think to seize the Congo until the late 1870s. All the same, the country's colonial rule was notorious: The scope of Leopold's empire may have been modest, but his policies and those of his successors were among the most repressive in Africa.

Luc Tuymans's recent show of paintings, “Mwana Kitoko,” focused not on the origins of his homeland's imperialism but on a moment during its demise: the '50s under King Baudouin, coronated in 1950 at age nineteen after his father was forced to abdicate (due to bad behavior during World War 11). The Congolese called Baudouin “Mwana Kitoko” (“beautiful boy”), a pejorative nickname that his handlers quickly changed to “Bwana Kitoko,” or

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