Baroque, 2017

The title of this painting refers to the artistic movement that appeared at the end of the Renaissance and sought to represent passions and emotions, in particular religious, as opposed to the calmer rationality of the previous period. It is an era in which Tuymans is very interested. He curated an exhibition on the Renaissance (titled Sanguine/Bloedrood), which was presented in the summer of 2018 at M HKA in his hometown of Antwerp—a major center of Flemish Baroque, notably through Peter Paul Rubens—and after that at the Prada Foundation in Milan. Besides its lyricism and flamboyant quality, the artist is also interested in Baroque because it was the first artistic movement that could truly be qualified as global as it encompassed all the arts and spread across European borders. Lucy Tuymans painted Baroque when he was preparing that exhibition. The painting is based on a photograph taken by the artist with his smartphone of a religious sculpture from the Spanish Baroque. What is striking is the contrast between the Baroque announced in the title and what is represented: there is no lyricism in this scene, no overflow of colors, no representation of the body, of passion and death..., nothing but a close up of a face sculpted in wood some four centuries ago and above all, a look. Luc Tuymans uses the language of cinema—a Bergmanian close up—and the painted image of a black & white/sepia digital image to represent the very essence of Baroque: the pain and depth of soul reflected through these wide, dark eyes.