Artists influence in relation to depicting evil

Luc Tuymans is an artist I have previously studied, however not for this element in his work. his portrayal of evil is very much ordinanary which makes the deception all the more life like. his work encapsulates the true banality of evil

‘If media images inadequately depict the horrors of reality, then Luc Tuymans’s paintings are even more disturbingly detached. Often taking his imagery from published photos (of war, violence, subjugation), the paintings are the antithesis of this historic iconography: dull tones, vague, nondescript scenes, stripped of emotional propaganda.’


This piece ‘Within’ conveys this aspect beautifully.

‘Luc Tuymans paints the indescribable. His dark muted scenes seem vaguely familiar, distant, like haunting memories. Drawing his inspiration from grand themes, Luc Tuymans taps into a universal social guilt: from the Holocaust, or imperialism, to child abuse. By minimalising his images, he creates a raw emotion through paint; each painting linking spiritually, somehow instinctively, to the rest. Within is a tranquil vermin metaphor for contamination and disease. A close-up detail of a birdcage, this painting more than conveys feelings of hopelessness and isolation: through its sheer size and potency, it literally traps the viewer, swallowing him into a prison of collective consciousness.’

This piece is of particular interest as i have used an actual bird cage in my work, however i don’t feel I encapsulated this feeling of isolation and despair.


‘Luc Tuymans’s pigeons bop in dumb disarray. Dirty and disease-ridden, they’re a strangely curious mob, a metaphoric stand-in for ourselves. Painted in the muted tones of history, Luc Tuymans offers a chilling ultimate truth about humankind. He makes a cold comedy of a terrifying thought.’

Painting with muted tones is an aspect I want to transfer into my work.


This painting ‘Gaskamer’ perhaps sums up this muted approach to painting. Tuymans stated that ‘the room remains incredible to the end. Its purpose is depiction. The room deceives, the objects deceive.’ This piece ultimately reflects the horror of the site and magnifies its concealed function, which was an environment of mass murder. The piece well and truely highlights the aspect of depiction.

Tuymans also claimed ‘The final solution is something hidden, and I want to integrate that into the cultural discourse. It could be seen as a methaphor for the culture we live in. i see it as something that might happen again, as a possbility. I don’t want to take a moral stance, but I want to oppose the taboo aspect of it.’

Another artist who portrays this muted element within their is Anselm Kiefer.

Marlene Dumas


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