From a young age, Tuymans has always admired the portraits of Scottish painter Henry Raeburn (1756 – 1832).
Working with Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh, Tuymans was given the opportunity to choose a selection of paintings by the Scottish enlightenment painter to exhibit his work with in the Gallery space.
Here, he talks of when he first saw the work and why it inspires him.
‘I first saw Henry Raeburn’s work when I was 16 years old at the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent. It was a portrait of Alexander Edgar and I remember a certain sense of the definiteness in his blue eyes. He had painted the iris as a black ball, with a blue ball underneath, and it worked. His painting technique is fabulous and seems to be done without hesitation. He was self-taught, and there is a directness and an urgency to his approach which you might also see in Caravaggio… up to a point. Neither artist drew – they just painted straight on to the canvas, which I think is an admirable way to work.
I also like the matter-of-factness in his work. Rayburn isn’t Turner; he’s not the tormented, Romantic artist. Instead, we see a lot of pragmatism, and a fascinating sternness, but also probably an element of smallness or lack of criticality in terms of himself or his status and position as an artist. It feels quite contemporary in that he’s trying not to exaggerate, trying to be precise and not to fill in or embellish.’
From: Tate Etc. issue 35: Autumn 2015
Images courtesy of University of Edinburgh.