Victoria Miro is delighted to participate in Art Basel OVR: Portals with a focused selection of new flower paintings by the celebrated Danish artist Tal R.
In his work Tal R often employs apparently simple compositional devices and repeated motifs from life to create complex, atmospheric worlds that, beginning with the recognisable and known, expand or collapse into spaces of enchantment or ambiguity, heady with atmosphere and colour.
Painted during the pandemic, the works on view are united by subject matter and seem to foreground a domestic sphere that might serve to define the limits of our recent lives. Each depicts a bunch of flowers picked by the artist from around his home in the Danish countryside, presented in a vase on a table top within a closely cropped interior space. Throughout, perspectives are tilted to create an intimist space in which the seemingly everyday is served by the image's emphatic flatness. In this deceptively quotidian world, there is a deliberate, non-hierarchical sense of everything existing on the same plane. As the artist explains, 'you can't say the table or the tablecloth is less important than the flowers. You have to say everything counts.' Nonetheless, we notice how certain stems ascend buoyantly while others droop under heavy heads, how blooms become like characters within and between the works. There are definite emotional registers at play in addition to the chromatic ones we encounter at first.
A closed drawer might occasionally be visible at the very bottom of the image. However, while intimations of physical space are kept to a minimum, stopping just short of the right-hand side of the composition each tabletop appears tacitly to invite us in. Flowers in vases are, of course, a kind of contained beauty, a domesticated wildness, nature tamed, and in this context they, perhaps unavoidably, can be considered as memento mori, a poetic reminder that our time is fleeting. The artist would always prefer to talk about his work in terms of what he defines as 'painter's mathematics' – for example, how a stem goes into a vase, or hits the water. And yet, as he concedes, 'I think if you talk to a mathematician very late at night, he would say mathematics is very emotional. It's actually a way of way of organising the world. And I'm also into that. I'm trying to organise things that have too many details.'
A substantial group of works from this series is on view in a solo exhibition titled HOME ALONE at Ordrupgaard Museum, Denmark in June.