Luc Tuymans Gets Down to Business

David Zwirner hosts the artist's new show, 'Corporate'

A second purple-gray canvas titled Panel renders in cloth and oil what television calls a p.o.v. angle on a group of mucky-mucks; the viewer catches their smoldering luminescence from behind the audience's obscured heads. Why is it that we are so dependent on the camera for glimpses of the real? A third work presents a lone, hand-wringing suit standing before an invisible audience. Titled Speech, it is one of the few of Tuymans's shadowy pictures to employ directional light—his light characteristically emanates from his painted subjects like an assertive aura—and the one painting here to feature the full human figure. Made small and insignificant by forces outside the frame, this fragile CEO is reduced to the condition of a familiarly sympathetic puppet. Where does control lie with a headless amalgamated entity?

Edmund Burke once said that beauty is accentuated by light, but that darkness becomes sublime when it terrifyingly obliterates the sight of an object. In these remarkable pictures of dehumanizing shades, Luc Tuymans presents nothing less than a resolute, irony-free vision of the corporate sublime.

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