Amy Bernstein interviews painter Luc Tuymans about his work on the occasion of the exhibition Luc Tuymans: Graphic Works - Kristalnacht to Technicolor at The Philip Feldman Gallery + Project Space, Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, Oregon, on view through June 13, 2014.
Tuymans comments that early in his career he felt that abstract painting "was existential and tormented; you feel suffocated by it. You are too close to the thing. And then, by accident, a friend of mine shoved an 8 mm camera in my hands, and I started to film. That was from 80-85. I shot mostly Super 8, 16mm, and in the end, 35mm as well. Then I returned to painting. This was important, because this time period of four or five years allowed me to distance myself from the medium. And it was the distance which allowed me to make the image I wanted to make. I already wanted to make paintings with a sort of diagnostic view, but I couldn't because I didn't have the distance. Otherwise, filming continued to inform my paintings long afterwards because of the vocabulary I gained from using it: cropping, closeups, etc. Ideas came from looking through the camera, and I began to understand and accept that a detail could be blown out to become the image itself. That helped a lot... to come back to painting... my toolbox is very big now because I make either drawings, watercolors, tiny maquettes which I take polaroids of, my Iphone, websites, Photoshop, etc.. . . But the aim is to analyze the imagery in such a way that it becomes relevant to paint and that it will, through the act of painting, go through a transformation more dynamic and complete than any bound by just mechanics."