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the broad

Me

Luc Tuymans
2011
oil on canvas
43 1/2 x 53 5/8 in. (110.49 x 136.21 cm)

Me is a portrait of the artist Luc Tuymans that he made of himself--like a selfie! [SOUNDFX: camera shutter sound]

 

He’s an artist who usually paints from photographs and images taken from film and TV.

 

In fact, it was Luc’s wife who took the photograph this painting is based on. She took it on a cell phone’s camera. Luc is a figurative painter, which means his work is focused on real objects and people in real life.

 

Have you ever made a self-portrait? Did you paint yourself doing something you love doing? Dancing? Singing? Being happy? Being sad?

 

This self-portrait is quite different than that. Nothing is really celebrated or explored deeply, it just is. It’s quite matter of fact. Normal and everyday.

 

The colors he used are quite thin, grey, and muted.

 

Beautiful, yet slightly dreary except for the spot of sunshine on his shoulder. That sunny spot is brighter than anything in the painting behind you mysteriously called Morning Sun.

 

[SOUNDFX: cracking glass]

 

There’s no trace of the sun in this painting? Instead we see a cracked window, and it’s frame, which is painted just off-center of the canvas. Like his self-portrait, this is a very everyday scene too. It’s actually the window across the street from his studio

Luc Tuymans paints at a certain distance from his subject matter, rendering historical photographs or contemporary events in pale, hazy tones, as ghosts stripped of their details and essence. Me, a rare self-portrait of Tuymans, and Morning Sun, a painting of a cracked window, are meant to be shown together. Tuymans sits in a chair in an unremarkable room staring emotionless into the camera that captures him. A bit of sun hits his left shoulder, perhaps from the hole in the window represented in Morning Sun. Light typically symbolizes inspiration, enlightenment, and divine presence, yet these meanings seem to have no place here. Instead, Tuymans offers a flat encounter with an ordinary day, no more, no less.