Tanguy de Thuret
Tanguy de Thuret - In the presence
A mercurial artist and eternal nomad, Tanguy de Thuret first criss-crossed Northern Europe, studying art and archaeology in Brussels and London, before devoting himself to cinema in New York, where he shot various experimental short films. A Grand Tour of Italy brought him to Rome, where he established himself as a tour guide to fulfil his love for Baroque, Renaissance, and ancient art. At a time when young Italians were running off to the United States, he made the trip in the opposite direction: for Tanguy de Thuret, “Rome, like New York, is Babel”.
Doing his scales
His experience as a guide allowed him to discover the secrets of the legendary museums of Rome and the Vatican and, above all, to fine-tune his gaze. At first, the challenge seemed too great, but by experiencing the intimacy and physicality of masterpieces by Raphael, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, and the ancient Romans, by seeing up close their brushstrokes and discovering the secrets behind their oeuvre, in the end he succeeded in grasping certain techniques and to reach the next level in his creative work. It was thus by following this long process of artistic maturation that he finally came to devote himself to an original form of painting, exploring at the same time Antiquity, modernity, and post-modernity.
A pale sun
What distinguishes Tanguy de Thuret’s works is first of all their pale and veiled luminosity, inspired by the atmosphere of Brussels. This northern climate which tends towards greyness has fostered a desire for more vivid and purer colours, applied through subtle and light strokes. These are the colours of Italy, the South, the Mediterranean, reminiscent of the lapis lazuli of the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, the deep red of the walls in Pompeii, and the warm colours of the shimmering waters of Venetian canals.
Presences and phenomena
It was in Rome, in the basement of a fine arts supply store, that he began to paint in earnest. In this makeshift studio – a real Fellinian mess of a place that still seemed to be haunted by the presence of those Jews hidden by the owners during the war – he portrayed his departed parents, his muses, and anonymous individuals, among with other personal obsessions. His models – human beings and objects alike – always have a slightly ghostly presence.
Tanguy de Thuret’s creative process is triggered by a vision or detail, which is fixed in a photo or a sketch. Like a ritual, the first sketches on canvas are made in turquoise blue, a colour that then remains in the form of traces and inconspicuous rings around the figures. Steeped in this cold aura, the models – human beings as well as objects – seem to stand on a threshold, frozen in a moment of transition. The objects, in particular, often seem abandoned: beer bottles on a landing, a covered car waiting to be discovered, a toppled table: “objects that are alive, that change as they are painted.” A play of Baroque chiaroscuro often brings cinematographic compositions to life, leading the viewer to try to imagine the moment before.
For Tanguy de Thuret, painting is above all a way of holding on to a sensual and calligraphic pleasure, something quite anachronistic at a time of digital hyperconnection. In his imaginary museum, he converses with cultures of the past, most notably pre-Christian, polytheistic civilisations, particularly the Etruscan one and the remnants of the superstitions of various pagan cultures, which crop up everywhere in Rome. The sorcerers’ Monti district, the alchemists’ Magic Portal, the Vatican and its hallucinatory prophecies of the goddess Vatica: he loves to reveal the hidden side of these many spaces, whether on canvas or in passionate conversations.
Few contemporary painters are so imbued with culture and history, with modern references rubbing shoulders with an obsessive contemporaneity. Tanguy de Thuret’s work is strongly influenced by German New Objectivity: among his models he mentions Bacon, Freud, and David Hockney – whose work he appreciates as much as his character. Among contemporary artists, he admires Alex Katz and Francesco Clemente, as well as East German painters (Gerhard Richter, Eberhard Havekost) and the Flemish Michael Borremans. Having moved from the cinema screen to the revitalising physicality of the canvas, he continues to explore the omnipresence and multiplication of screens through a series of paintings investigating the most recent and disturbing developments of the Internet (deepfake, camgirls...).
Tanguy de Thuret’s works often feature a girl with short hair. This is Elodie, a young autistic woman whose silent, pensive presence and different way of being-in-the-world have inspired the painter to somewhat distance himself from reality, to adopt a new point of view on everyday life. “I am so used to her that I see her as she is. I like to paint in her presence.”
Interview and text by Amélie Guinet.