Schwarzheide, 2019

The title, Schwarzheide, comes from a German forced-labor camp. Some prisoners secretly drew and cut their drawings in strips to hide them and avoid them being confi scated. Later, the strips would be reassembled so the drawings could appear as whole and their message be understood. The drawing that inspired this painting was made by Alfred Kantor, a camp survivor whose sketchbook was one of Luc Tuymans’ main sources on this subject. The painted stripes evoke the deportees’ uniform and the black trees the woods around the camps, which made them invisible to local residents. Furthermore, the gesture of reassembling what was previously separated can be interpreted as a metaphor for all the lives broken by war, which survivors must rebuild with their memory and the few memories they are left with. Here, almost enlarged to the dimension of urban paving, the image appears as dissolved to the visitor who walks in. But symbolically, as soon as one stands at the level of the closed face of Secrets, and even more so at the level of the balustrades, overlooking the atrium of Palazzo Grassi it is reassembled again and it delivers its message, thereby showing that distance and point of view are essential when looking at an artwork.