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Luc Tuymans on baroque


During the cultural city festival Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires, Luc Tuymans confronts the genius of Baroque masters with the vision of top contemporary artists. The exhibition “Sanguine|Bloedrood”, conceived by the artist for the M HKA (Museum of Modern Art Antwerp) and Fondazione Prada, juxtaposes the spirit of the baroque masters with the vision of contemporary top artists. With the exhibition Sanguine/Bloedrood, curator Luc Tuymans aims to overwhelm the visitor by placing key works from the baroque of, among others, Francisco de Zurbarán, Caravaggio and Anthony van Dyck, in dialogue with works by classical contemporary masters, such as On Kawara and Edward Kienholz, as well as works by contemporary stars such as Zhang Enli, Takashi Murakami, Michaël Borremans, Sigmar Polke and Tobias Rehberger. Through a number of exceptional loans, curator Luc Tuymans brings national and international masterpieces to Antwerp, including a splendid selection from the KMSKA, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp. Sanguine/Bloedrood is a visually opulent and challenging exhibition that brings old masters into the experimental spaces of contemporary art.

The term 'baroque' continues to evoke some of its original negative connotations - exaggeration and indulgence - but simultaneously suggests something exciting, something elusive. The M HKA invited Luc Tuymans to present his view on the baroque, precisely to bring this sense of the elusive to the fore. He brushes the dust from the threadbare term, and revisits the intensity and intelligence of the practice. Tuymans chose the evocative, poetic Sanguine/Bloedrood - echoing the energy flow of life and death - as the title for the exhibition. In the first place, the exhibition seeks to explore the tension between various masterpieces from the baroque period and contemporary masters, in an attempt to bridge the gap between old and contemporary art. Both time periods evoke a sense of overwhelmingness, but also of recognizability. And it is precisely this ambitious and ambivalent dialog that makes Sanguine/Bloedrood an extremely relevant exhibition, as a visualization of periods that had both a positive and a negative outlook on the past, the present and the future.

The key work in the exhibition is Five Car Stud, a masterpiece by Edward Kienholz, exhibited for the first time at Harald Szeemann's legendary documenta 5 in 1972. After the exhibition, the work remained hidden from view in the storage of a Japanese collector for almost forty years and it is currently part of Collezione Prada in Milan.
With the approval of the Fondazione Prada and Nancy Reddin Kienholz, Five Car Stud will be presented in a unique and one-time location: in a dome tent on the Gedempte Zuiderdokken, catapulted back into life. The large sculptural installation shows the execution-like castration of a young Afro-American in the South of the US as a reprisal for alleged sexual relations with a white girl. Five Car Studimmerses the visitor in a nightmare of extreme violence. After almost fifty years, (Five Car Stud was created in 1969-1972) the work has lost none of its expressive power, powerful symbolism and urgency.

The surprising choices of Luc Tuymans bring together masterpieces from the fine and contemporary arts in one mental space: the internal world of attention of an artist. Tuymans, himself a figurative painter who constantly seeks to extend the traditional boundaries of his practice, deliberately chose not to set up Sanguine/Bloedrood as an art-historical, canonical overview, but according to his own interpretation. The intensity of the image is his central preoccupation, the artistic decisiveness and the gaze of a creator onto other creators. In this way, an associative, non-linear process emerges, a search for new connections between old and new masters, between vivid works and potential works - or the 'rethinking' of works - between master and apprentice. Sanguine/Bloedrood 
does not seek to be complete, and deliberately leaves gaps. 

The exhibition Sanguine/Bloedrood is a joint organization of the M HKA, the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, Studio Luc Tuymans and the KMSKA, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (closed for renovation) the City of Antwerp and Fondazione Prada. 

Image on top: Berlinde De Bruyckere, In Flanders Field (2000). Horse skin, polyester, metal, plastic, blankets.
Collection M HKA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Flemish Community.



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