Recherches, 1989

In 1994, Luc Tuymans painted a simple lampshade and titled his work Lamp. The following year, he took up again this subject and titled that work Home Sweet Home. The painting on the left titled Recherches is the very first version of this work, dated 1989. You could say there is nothing special about this lamp sat on a table, painted rather hesitantly, except that it was part of the furniture of a Nazi officer at the Buchenwald concentration camp, and that the lampshade is made of human skin. Appearances are always deceptive. The tooth in the central painting and the showcase on the right come from photographs taken in Auschwitz and Buchenwald by Luc Tuymans during a trip to Poland and Germany, in 1986. They show how the Nazis profaned human bodies and stole precious objects from the dead, such as hair, teeth and wedding rings. For Luc Tuymans, the apparent lack of expressiveness of these images is humiliating. They are testament to a conception of medicine, science and conscience where human beings and life have lost their purpose.