Luc Tuymans, 'The Arena', 2017

After more than twenty years, Luc Tuymans (Mortsel, °1958) returns to the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent. In 1990, he created his first major exhibition in a public institution, more specifically in the space of 'De Vereniging voor het Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst' (The Association for the Contemporary Art Museum). Its exhibition space was located in the cellars of the current Museum of Fine Arts. The boundaries of his practice had already been clearly delineated in his debut, including the key themes and the execution/medium he would use.

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The Arena: a piece of history
Luc Tuymans’s work examines the veracity of the portrayed reality, in photos and in film, adopting the formal characteristics of the image in his paintings, including a monochrome palette, framing, close-up, motion blur, editing and sequences. His questions concern the relationship between the image and the memory or the photographic document and the historical event. In his quest for (the relativity of) truth, he engages with historical themes such as the Holocaust, Belgium’s colonial past and Flemish nationalism.

Cinematography in chalk
In 1994, he created a work in situ for the exhibition 'This is the Show and the Show is Many Things', in the museum’s upper galleries. At the time, these belonged to the Museum of Contemporary Art. This time, however, he is using the fresco technique for the first time, to paint directly onto the wall, establishing a close relationship between the contemporary aspect of his painting and the classic idea of the Museum of Fine Arts and its collection.

'The Arena' was created as part of the rehanging of the permanent collection in 2017.