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accidentally. There are also images that I didn’t understand at the time,
which weren’t painted until, say, five or six years later.
WS: That delay in understanding why an image strikes you happens
to me, too.
LT: Painted time is like a different zone. This is why I don’t believe that a
painting – although I have been accused of it many times now – can be
truly topical. A painting’s physicality gives it a different persistence and
a different perception. If you ask people to remember a painting and
a photograph, their description of the photograph is far more accurate
than that of the painting. Strangely enough, there is a physical element
intertwined with the painting. It shakes loose an emotional element
within the viewer, which is different than with a photograph.
WS: Painting from a photo makes it anonymous. It lets us look
at it honestly, not as a particular. Photos are everywhere, of and the ‘representation of representation’, the negatives accumulated by
by everyone. critics, ranging from ‘sinister’ to ‘cynical’. These are the ‘glasses’ people
like Kantor wear.
LT: That is similar to a remark Richter once made – that painting in
that way liberated him from the subject. By using photography, he was WS: The title is a hint. There is a certain poetry between the image
liberated by its banality. To a point I think that is true, but I am also very and the title.
sceptical. Because you do, or at least I do, want to get across the main
meaning of what that painting is about, what the image is about. Not LT: When I started out, it was not done. Some of the criticism
that I want to ram it down anybody’s throat. This is another accusation. comes from this, that the work should speak for itself. Of course, as
People say that without my explanations you can’t understand the contemporary artists, you have to position yourself within the social,
work. I am accused of being arrogant. It is very strange. Journalists because contextualisation is what makes art contemporary. But when
love you to talk about your work, and then they sort of hate you for confronted with the stupidity of nitwits trying to find the ‘real’ honesty
doing it, probably because you did it better than they did. Sometimes or the ‘real’ person behind it, I go ballistic. I came to the conclusion
the themes I take on are reduced to personal history, which is another that I won’t talk anymore. That I won’t do these interviews, because
deluding process. And then you have all the ‘failing’ of the imagery, they just backfire. What I say is not my work. I am not my work. And I
think that is a self-evident and basic understanding of the visual.
You are not the visual.
“I won’t do these
WS: But I wonder if you can deny what is said about your works?
Mostly I am misunderstood, and people put words in my mouth, things
interviews, because
I hadn’t even thought of. But I don’t deny them. I let people think what
they want.
they just backfire”
LT: As long as it concerns the work. As long as it doesn’t concern all
the other things.
WS: With me, this misunderstanding happens when everything is
put in the context of communism. Which is bullshit. Here is this Polish
artist, exhibiting in Europe, he must deal with communist issues. But I
don’t. Art doesn’t ‘deal’ with anything. It is about asking questions and
getting answers.
LT: Exactly. Life is politics, basically, but you don’t just go to a gallery
and put the words ‘art’ and ‘politics’ on the wall. An artwork should
point in more than one direction, not be this sort of placating, self-
demonstrating, witnessing element. It is not important to convince
people; they should convince themselves, they should look with their
own eyes. A painting is not this type of bucket spiel that you deliver.
It is far more complicated than that.
WS: There are some issues you can’t be indifferent about. Whenever
I drive through Poland and see its monuments, I am aware of how its
soil is soaked with blood. But some issues are hidden or not hidden, >
Tuymans/Sasnal.indd 45 3/1/08 12:21:45
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