The Book, 2007

The Book reproduces in monumental format the open pages of a book on religious architecture. The fold mark is clearly visible in the center of the painting, jarring the order of the Baroque church’s nave. This painting can be compared with another one painted the previous year and titled Church. Both are treated with similar yellow, earthy and greyish white, slightly fuzzy hues, thus disrupting the splendor and magnificence of the place. In so doing, Luc Tuymans inverts the illusionist character of religious architecture by blurring the sculpted and painted representations meant to inspire the faithful and strengthen their faith. Hasn’t it been said that a cathedral is the Bible in three dimensions? But here, the viewer’s mind is in doubt and confused, almost dizzied by this book which has been enlarged to the dimensions of their own body. And the more they feel they could enter the painting and the perspective it reproduces, the more the latter slips away to the point of becoming almost a visual hallucination. Isn’t it similar to our relationship with religion? As churches, deserted by the faithful, have become tourism venues, religious power has grown significantly, in particular in the areas of morality, education and lifestyle.