Since his appearances at the Venice Biennale 2001 and the Documenta 11, Luc Tuymans can be counted among the most important international painters of his generation. The Belgian artist, who was born in 1958 in Mortsel/Antwerp, has developed an extraordinarily complex oeuvre since the late 1980s thatquestions the status of the picture in the gulf between presentation and representation.
Tuymans' creative process is based on a double strategy: Starting from a rather graphic, cool figurative concept consistently based on visual material already dealt with in various media (Polaroids, newspaper illustrations, film stills), he creates subdued and unspectacular small images of landscape situations, objects, architecture and seemingly masked people. The „frost colored“ and often gesso-like blurriness of the images radiate a quiet and frozen emptiness that straddles the boarder between concrete representation and suggestion. Like the shadows of things, the painted objects are suspended in the visual space, seemingly always about todisintegrate into the nothingness from which they were wrung in the first place. Yet at the same time, multi-leveled contents characterize all the painter's works, for example the critical analysis of events from recent history seen as catastrophic, succinctly expressed by National Socialism and the Holocaust.
The groundwork for Tuymans' extensive exhibition project The Arena in the Kunstverein Hannover is made up of film stills and poloroids, shown here comprehensively for the first time, representing something like a pictorial archive for the painter's specific activities, as well as a large convolute of drawings from the time between 1985 and 2001. Four series of painted works form the main emphasis of the show, three of which are being shown in Germany for the first time. While the series Slide (2002) empties the picture to the point that is seems like a phantom of itself, Exhibits (2002) operates with an offensive strategy, presenting events in a construed and stage-like manner, intensifying the basic feeling of placelessness even further. The four-part work Die Zeit (1988) as the series The Passion (1998/89), which have not been previously exhibited in German-speaking countries, complete the panorama of his search for pictures, which 'show something and makes it disappear at the same time' (Tuymans 2002).