Navy Seals


Oil on canvas

43 × 66 cm (16 15/16 × 26 in.)

Luc Tuymans' Navy Seals painting looks like an archive image whose colors have faded with time. However, it refers to recent events: the Iraq War and more precisely the seizure of Saddam Hussein's son's palace by American soldiers. Inspired by television footage, the painting opposes a moving dream-like quality to the drama of these events. With its blurred figures, its narrow color scheme and its enigmatic atmosphere, Tuymans' painting is more like a dream or a memory, representing the limits of painting in the face of history.

Navy Seals is exemplary of the artist's artistic practice. Working with archive images, Luc Tuymans creates compositions imbued with mystery and unreality. By using a small format, he transforms a dramatic, symbolic event that received huge media coverage into a genre painting devoid of any sensationalism.

Shown at the Luc Tuymans retrospective exhibition at Tate Modern in 2004, Navy Seals, held in the Pinault Collection, was shown in 2006 at the Where Are We Going? exhibition at Palazzo Grassi, in Venice.