One of the less remarked-upon artistic phenomena of the last decade or so is the way the recent vogue for painting from photographs has ushered in a mini-era of narrative painting. As soon as the viewer becomes aware that a given work is a painting of a photograph, his attention is necessarily directed to the story and away from the paint, perceptions, and aesthetic concerns of the artist. The Belgian painter Luc Tuymans stands at the forefront of a younger generation of representational artists, almost all of whom paint photographs, magazine clippings, film stills, and images from television. “Mwana Kitoko,” Tuymans’s recent show at Zwirner, brought together ten works using images from the history of Belgian colonialism in the Congo. Meaning “beautiful boy,” “mwana kitoko” is the nickname the Congolese gave to King Baudouin during his 1955 triumphal procession through the country.

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