I was immediately captured by Tuymans with his medical drawing paintings. Where medical students look so objectively at diseases as tools to learn, Tuymans sought to look at the medical textbook pictures more subjectively taking into consideration the people that disease process was affecting. The diseases weren’t noted in the title, but it was obvious that he was portraying the struggles we have with cancer, lupus, and anemia.
His next exploration of work looked at the Halocaust and Nazi propaganda. He was intrigued by people doing unspeakable things, but then returning to everyday normal routines. One painting that was disturbing in it’s simplicity pictured an Nazi SS leader on vacation with his wife but you would never know by looking at the painting. The painting simply showed an innocent looking figure having fallen down in the snow while skiing- the face was blank and the bluish tones provided a sense of innocence. The story, however, behind the work was that Tuymans had taken a still from a home video footage shot by the Nazi SS leader’s wife of the man while they were on vacation. Tuymans was intrigued by the fact someone could murder innocent women, men and children, yet return to their families and enjoy skiing vacations and weekend retreats.
Another set of paintings I found interesting were his Disney paintings that immediately followed his 9/11 set. The Disney paintings were actually his attack on Walt Disney and his utopian idealism. Tuymans hated the idea of Disney and thought it mirrored that of Nazi idealism. In one painting you see after the 9/11 set, you see a fifth of a figure of a man pointing to map spread out that looks to be Afghanistan or Iraq (fresh in your mind after seeing the 9/11 paintings). The painting, however, is actually Walt Disney pointing out his idea for a “perfect,” “Utopian” family center as he discussed his plans for EPCOT center. Tuymans sought to exploit Walt Disney’s ideas of a utopian state and hated his ideas that were all too reminiscent of a time of war that we experienced not so long ago.
Tuymans work was inspirational in that the meanings behind his paintings made you think. We’re used to plots and ideas being laid out for us so often, with instantaneous gratification when it comes to entertainment. The exhibit was a welcome change of pace.
Here's a great link in the case I peaked your curiosity. http://www.mcachicago.org/exhibitions/exh_detail.php?id=221