PHOTOGRAPHY, THEY SAID, WOULD KILL PAINTING. BUT THEN ARTISTS BEGAN TO PAINT PHOTOS - AND A CREEPY, CHIC, THOROUGHLY MODERN ART FORM WAS BORN.
By Adrian Searle
Some of the more recent painters here appear to be making a glamorous kind of decor, fetishised with paint. Judith Eisler's glossy, out-of-focus paintings, based on photographs of the TV screen while she watches Marianne Faithfull in leather gear in Girl On a Motorcycle or Ciao Manhattan, have a melted, hard quality, and appear to be all about surface, glare and a kind of repulsion. Johannes Kahrs's repainted screen grabs from Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, and of Jagger singing Sympathy for the Devil, have got all the right blurring and layering and juddery suffocating claustrophobia, but they end up somehow chic and self-regarding paintings, over-encumbered by technique. Maybe what they are really about is decadence, and a kind of sexualised relationship with the image.
Luc Tuymans frequently works from multiple-generation photocopies or bad Polaroids, making a watercolour version of the image, then painting from that, rapidly and mercilessly homing in on the dead spots or the places where the authority of the image unravels. For Altar, depicting an altar in a Salt Lake City Mormon temple, the image was taken from a security camera shot as seen in a TV documentary, frozen as a photographic still, reworked in a watercolour that was rephotographed as a Polaroid, then painted in oil on a large scale, rapidly, using the Polaroid as a model. Tuymans has always said the montage and cropping of film are closer to painting then photography is. Martin Kippenberger, on the other hand, sent his snapshots to a sign painter to be painted in the early 1980s. "I am not Paint Peter," he once said, and, "I am not an easel-kisser." For Kippenberger, both the photograph and the painting are of questionable value, their relationships unsettled and still in flux.