A Flemish Intellectual, 1995

The man portrayed in A Flemish Intellectual, which was presented in 1995 in Antwerp at Zeno X Gallery for the exhibition 'Heimat' and later at the Nantes Museum of Fine Arts, has an almost generic and archetypal character because of the intentional blurring of the surface and facial contour and the absence of a gaze. Treated as a tutelary and reassuring figure, it does not belong to any age or place. The presence that comes across is more that of an age-old ghost rather than a flesh and blood individual. In fact, this is a portrait of the Flemish writer Ernest Claes, author of famous patriotic and regionalist novels who was exhumed from the realm of literary shadows by Flemish nationalists. He is thus represented by Tuymans as an outdated vestige, the bearer of pathetic manipulation and falsification.