The National Portrait Gallery has announced the theme of a new exhibition - people wearing glasses.
All the paintings, to go on display this autumn, are by the Belgian artist Luc Tuymans, who has selected the portraits from a larger body of his own work.
He said that he was surprised to find that, while looking through his portraits, glasses featured in most of them.
“I have always enjoyed painting glasses. Glasses bring a kind of distortion to the face... it is a strange instrument and practically a universal theme,” he said.
“The banality of glasses receives a different meaning when you paint them. When at a certain point I was looking through all the portraits I’ve painted up to now, I was amazed to discover that there were glasses in three quarters of them. This is certainly not a conscious choice.”
He added: “Glasses radically change the physiognomy of a face, but are not perceived as a radical change.”
Tuymans is billed as one of the most significant and influential contemporary painters working today.
Taking inspiration from found images and photographs, “his work deals with how history and memory is translated into paint and how we perceive people and things”, the London gallery said.
Dr Nicholas Cullinan, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said: ‘It has been a privilege to collaborate with Luc on this unique display of his work, which has a special resonance in a gallery devoted to portraits.
“Tuymans is, to my mind, one of the greatest painters working today, and also has a formidable curatorial eye - this witty project makes the most of both qualities, and reaffirms the National Portrait Gallery’s commitment to showing the best contemporary forms of portraiture within a very particular historical context.”
• Luc Tuymans: Glasses is a free exhibition and runs from October 4, 2016 to April 2, 2017 at the National Portrait Gallery, London.