UCCA Beijing

Luc Tuymans: The Past

2024.11.16 - 2025.2.16

Luc Tuymans, Morning Sun, 2003, oil on canvas, 156 × 180 cm. © Luc Tuymans, courtesy the artist and David Zwirner.


Location:  Great Hall

One of the most important painters working today, Luc Tuymans gained prominence in Europe in the 1980s with a distinctive style that drew both from the grand ambitions of Northern Renaissance painting and the popular culture and media of his youth in Belgium during the decades after World War II. Engaged equally by the broad sweep of history and the mundane details of daily life, Tuymans explores the unsteady power that images wield to shape the present and give form to the past. Organized by Peter Eleey, UCCA curator-at-large, in close collaboration with the artist, “Luc Tuymans: The Past” will be one of the most significant surveys of his work and its first comprehensive presentation in China – a country in which he has a longstanding interest, and where he has previously organized and presented exhibitions. The seductive, expressive surfaces of his paintings belie a restrained silence that invites multiple readings. Based on preexisting imagery, Tuymans’s works may imbue ordinary objects with outsized importance, or hauntingly reduce subjects of enormous consequence to pictorial ciphers that evade the illustrative clarity often associated with history painting. Embracing both the force and limitations of the painterly image and craft, Tuymans has become deeply influential to his peers as well as subsequent generations of artists, including many in China who discovered his work in the 1990s. Featuring approximately 80 works drawn from the full scope of the artist’s career—including Chinese subjects that have featured in his work since his very first exhibition in 1985—the exhibition highlights Tuymans’s constant awareness of the role of his medium in modeling history and influencing memory.

About the Artist

Luc Tuymans (b. 1958, lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium) has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions worldwide, including those held at Palazzo Grassi (Venice, 2019); De Pont Museum (Tilburg, The Netherlands, 2019); Museum aan de Stroom (MAS; Antwerp, 2016), which traveled to the National Portrait Gallery (London, 2016); Qatar Museums Gallery – Al Riwaq (Doha, 2015); Menil Collection (Houston, 2013); the Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, Ohio, 2009), which traveled to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Dallas Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and BOZAR – Palais des Beaux-Arts (Brussels); and Tate Modern (London, 2004), which traveled to K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen (Düsseldorf). As a curator, Tuymans has organized a number of exhibitions, including “The Forbidden Empire: Visions of the World by Chinese and Flemish Artists” (The Palace Museum, Beijing, 2007). He has received numerous awards and honors, including the Medal of Honor, International Congress of Contemporary Painting (ICOCEP; Porto, Portugal. 2019); the Coutts Contemporary Art Foundation Award (Zurich, 2000); and the Flemish Culture Award for Visual Arts (1993). The artist’s work features in museum collections worldwide, including the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), The Museum of Modern Art (New York), The National Museum of Art (Osaka), Pinakothek der Moderne (Munich), Pinault Collection, and Tate (London).