Awakenings: Art in Society in Asia 1960s–1990s, a major retrospective at Singapore's National Gallery (14 June–15 September 2019), opens emphatically in flames. At the exhibition's entrance, viewers encounter a wall-sized image from 1964 titled Burning Canvases Floating on the River. The photograph captures a performance by Lee Seung-taek, in which...
When the London-born artist Thomas J Price graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Chelsea College of Arts in 2004, the school's college art prize was by no means his most notable accomplishment as an emerging artist. In 2001, Price presented his much-talked-about work Licked, a daring performance, later profiled on the BBC 4 television...
Without punctuation, She Said Why Me, the title of May Fung's 1989 video presents itself as a statement, rather than a question. It suggests a subject who expects no response, a person prepared to make what she can from being chosen though perplexed by the attention. The video follows a blindfolded woman, then unmasked, through late colonial-era...
Exhibition view: Tal R, The Minute, Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, Philadelphia (5 October–16 November 2018). Courtesy Studio LHOOQ.
PHILADELPHIA — Tal R's current exhibition, The Minute, at the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery gave me a headache. Throughout the show there are works that hang vertically, when it seems they should hang horizontally. It felt like strings were being pulled taut upwardly from my brow.
Promenade (2014), the first painting one sees when entering the gallery, is one of these works. It is evocative of Fauvism, in its bright, expressive color and portrayal of women with parasols in early 20th century dress, out for a walk in the park, and hangs at 96 inches tall.
While working with collage, sculpture, print, installation and even furniture, Tal R is best known for his large-scale paintings laden with geometric patterns and erotic scenes that evoke the works of early-20th-century Western modernist painters.
Having been born to a Danish mother and Jewish-Czechoslovakian father in Tel Aviv, and raised in Denmark, the artist has a sense of not fully belonging to any place. He derives inspiration from eclectic sources that range from the historical to the contemporary, figurative to abstract, and from high to low culture. His early paintings and collages are characterised by their square dimensions and the division of the pictorial space into three horizontal bands, each committed to a different motif. The top band records the range of colours he used to paint each work, while the middle part depicts scenes, such as a gathering of figures, as seen in New Quarter (2003). The bottom band is usually painted in a single colour with specks of paint over it. In collages such as Lords of Kolbojnik (2002-3), in which the myriad of images of animals, masks, patterns and anonymous individuals frame the rays of colours, the uppermost part is left blank.
Around 2014, Tal R began painting with a mixture of pigments and rabbit skin glue to produce the glowing intensity that has come to define his work. Sexuality is a recurring theme in these paintings, as explored in the solo exhibition Altstadt Girl at New York's Cheim & Read in 2015. Tal R's take on the traditional genre of the female nude evoked the works of early modernist painters. Train Driver's Daughter (2014), for example, summons to mind Matisse's idyllic nudes surrounded by decorative and pigmented patterns.
In his paintings of the female figure, Tal R also captures a sense of awkwardness, resulting from his tenuous relationship with his models. Whitewall reported that while giving a press tour of Altstadt Girl, the artist explained that he chose to work with the embarrassment of convincing strangers to sit for him because he felt the disconnection from his subjects best allowed him to process the information he had been given—namely their physical appearances and private environments. ET (2014) was the only painting in Altstadt Girl to portray someone he knew well—his wife—and posed the most difficulty, which he resolved by tightly cropping her profile and blocking the background in solid red, eliminating any clues about her identity.
Tal R continues to maintain the position of the outsider in his oeuvre, withholding information about his subjects from his viewers. In Keyhole—his 2017 solo exhibition at Cheim & Read—he presented a series of drawings and paintings depicting the facades of shops in the red light districts of different cities that he had photographed personally or had received photographs of from his friends. Erotic references pervade these works, such as the oversized keyhole that suggests female genitalia in Keyhole, or the phallic lamppost erected before a sex club in Sex Palace (both works 2016). Unlike his previous paintings of the female nude, however, the sex shop paintings are devoid of figures and offer little or no view beyond the doors, deriving from Tal R's interest in facades, secrets and fantasies.
The concern with the human body also extends to Tal R's sculptures. The glazed ceramic sculptures in his 'Egyptian Boy' series (2010-13), for instance, each depict deconstructed and abstracted body parts as implied in titles such as Hips Penis or Torso and Neck. For his 2015 solo exhibition at London's Victoria Miro, titled Chimney school of sculpture, Tal R employed raku firing—a traditional Japanese technique that removes pieces from the kiln while they are still hot—to create a series of warping ceramics with a suggestion of anthropomorphic features. The same show also included his handmade sofas or 'opium sbeds', made from Scandinavian rugs and intended for gallery visitors to sit on and examine the raku works from different angles.
Tal R graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen in 2000 and taught as a professor at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf between 2005 and 2014. His work has been exhibited internationally including at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (2018); Victoria Miro, London (2017, 2015); Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk (2007); and Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv (2018, 2015, 2011), and is in the collections of ARoS Aarhus Art Museum; Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; Magasin III, Stockholm; Saatchi Gallery, London; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, among others. In 2017, his first museum retrospective Academy of Tal R was organised by Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam.
Tal R lives and works in Copenhagen.
All that remained were 48 hats. 48 hats and 48 coats. 48 hats and 48 coats and 48 pairs of shoes. They lay, folded, in six lines of eight, the discarded wear of 48 absent men or the uniform of a single man, repeated some 48 times.
The 58th edition of the Venice Biennale, May You Live in Interesting Times curated by Ralph Rugoff–from London’s very own Hayward Gallery–proves to be as interesting as its title promises. Venice is an easy city to get lost in, and it’s easy to see why Proust dubbed the city’s labyrinth of alleyways a network of 'innumerable slender capillary...
The American abstract expressionist painter Joan Mitchell rose to prominence during the second half of the 20th century; she was known for her large-scale canvas works, an outpouring of exuberant brushstrokes and blazing colour. Mitchell was one of the rare women artists of her time to achieve the same level of acclaim as her male contemporaries,...
There are hundreds of exhibitions in Venice during the Biennale. Alongside the main exhibition in the Giardini and Arsenale, there are 90 national presentations, many in nearby pavilions in the Giardini and in spaces around the Arsenale, but also dotted throughout Venice. Then there are the official collateral exhibitions in museums and galleries,...
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