Intolerance, 1993

This painting represents Luc Tuymans’ mother’s collection of 1970s candlesticks. The way these candlesticks, which hold unlit candles, are placed transforms the way they are perceived. They are represented stacked against one another, each of a different size and casting an imposing shadow on an ochre, rosy and brownish, dim backdrop. But everything is unlit here: the candles as well as the wall’s color, and the source of light can only be seen through the shadow it casts. This gives an impression of exiguity: these unassorted and outdated candlesticks are tightly arranged. There is a lack of light, breath and space in this scene that can be interpreted as a representation of our interiors—in the literal sense of our homes and in the figurative sense of our minds—, which are so narrow (and intolerant as the title suggests) that there is no room left, not even for a small flame. This work also recalls, because of the flatness of representation, the Italian master of still life Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) even though the elements’ shadow is represented.