The 58th Venice Biennale, May You Live In Interesting Times (11 May–24 November 2019), certainly benefitted from low expectations, given the lacklustre curatorial of the previous edition, when different segments of the show were conceptually framed with titles like 'Pavilion of Joys and Fears' and 'Pavilion of Colours'. Add to this the...
Hong Kong-based artist Zheng Bo's social, ecological, and community-engaged art practice has, in recent years, focused on moving beyond a human-centred perspective to an all-inclusive, multi-species approach. He takes up marginalised plants and communities of people as subjects in his large-scale interventions, which reintroduce wildness into...
The weather was clement for the annual Auckland Art Fair (2–5 May 2019), which was again at The Cloud on Queens Wharf. This year's edition was a get-together of 41 galleries, mostly from around Auckland and across New Zealand, with 5 spaces hailing from Sydney and the rest from Cook Islands (Bergman Gallery), Hobart (Michael Bugelli Gallery),...
'Art is the only place I can bear disappointment,' says Danish artist Tal R, who paints sex shops and dreams of making a clay pigeon fly. Meet one of Denmark's leading painters in this engaging and humorous interview on the nature of art.
Tal R was interviewed by Martin Krasnik at the Art Alive festival at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, in May 2016.
Camera: Jakob Solbakken, Simon Weyhe, Mathias Nyholm
Produced and Edited by: Kasper Bech Dyg
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2017
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.
Jeremy Lewison, adviser to the Estate of Alice Neel, talks with Angela Lampe, curator of Modern Art at Centre Pompidou, on the occasion of the exhibition 'Alice Neel in New Jersey and Vermont' (26 October—15 December 2018).
Shortly before he turned fifty, we had the unique pleasure of spending six months with Danish artist Tal R, while he was in the process of making his grand series of nine enormous railcar-paintings, 'Habakuk'. Watch the intimate and biographical film.A film by: Kasper Bech Dyg and Marc-Christoph WagnerCamera: Klaus ElmerAdditional footage:...
Academy of Tal R is the Israeli-born artist's largest exhibition to date, recently moving from Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. Tal R is also currently showing Sexshops at Victoria Miro in London. Here, the decidedly anti-academic artist discusses moving sculptures, keyholes and broken...
'We don't get inspired by each other, we steal from each other'. See what happens when you put two artists, who are also friends, together and get them to comment on each other's paintings.Music by: Mulatu Astatke.Produced by: Martin Kogi and Christian LundCopyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
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