Oil on canvas

Left panel: 94.5 × 67.8 × 4 cm (37 3/16 × 26 11/16 × 1 9/16 in.) Center panel: 97.5 × 90.8 × 4 cm (38 3/8 × 35 3/4 × 1 9/16 in.) Right panel: 95.7 × 95.4 × 4 cm (37 11/16 × 37 9/16 × 1 9/16 in.)

In his youth, when holidaying in Brittany, Luc Tuymans was fascinated by the large dovecotes that once housed pigeons reared for hunting or slaughtering. He learned that owning such a building was a privilege of nobility, and that the dimensions and prestige of an estate would dictate its orientation and size. These historic dovecotes and pigeon racing in general were the starting point of numerous works by Tuymans, including The Rumour (2001), which already features three large pigeon eyes shown in close up.

Sometimes magnificent, other times dirty and crippled by disease and decay, Luc Tuymans’ pigeons compose a strange, creepy and threatening crowd, more artificial than natural, like some secret society parallel to ours, which symbolizes the shapes and images of political, religious, social, medical and environmental power...

In the 2018 version, the pigeon’s eye, which is treated in bleak and mute tones and enlarged almost monstrously, is definitely not anymore that of the animal that embellishes our squares and streets, but rather a mutating or genetically modified eye, the frosty, icy embodiment of a society that is permanently under surveillance.

Marc Donnadieu, extracted from the Exhibition booklet "La Pelle", Palazzo Grassi, 2019-2020.