For those visiting during Art Basel in Hong Kong (29–31 March 2019), the smell of fresh paint may still be in the air at the latest heritage conservation project, The Mills, which opened on 16 March to encompass the Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textiles (CHAT), joining the ranks with ex-prison complex Tai Kwun, along with Eaton HK—a retro...
Firenze Lai says that she knows her studio of a few hundred square feet intimately; from the textures of its surfaces to the way the breeze blows into the room. The spaces depicted in her paintings are equally intimate. When curators seem to be at a loss for words to discuss troubled times, fear of containment, and the feeling of being completely...
In Meiro Koizumi's three-channel video installation, The Angels of Testimony (2019), the central frame features an interview with Hajime Kondo about his time as a solider of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The conversation centres on war crimes perpetrated in China, including the beheading of Chinese prisoners for...
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.
GSTAAD, Switzerland — Why travel to the Swiss Alps, if not for the benefits of breathing some rareified air? Elevation 1049 is a biennial now in its third iteration, produced by the Luma Foundation, and seeks to gather art world glitterati in the mountain town of Gstaad for a singular art festival experience — this year around the theme...
'The pace of contemporary life has never moved so fast,' says Copenhagen-based artist John Kørner, while peddling comically slowly on his bike installation at Victoria Miro's Wharf Road gallery in London. The bike is attached to a moving platform topped with a stall of chairs built for visitors, parallel to a vast, 12-panel painting charting a...
Scandinavian art duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset have become masters of the architectural installation over the past 13 years, picking up critical acclaim and international gallery shows as they go. Their work is characterised by presenting a familiar space in a different context.
Immersing the spectator in site-specific installations that she herself compares to "studio visits," both intimate and in flux, US artist Sarah Sze combines intricate systems of objects and images across multiple mediums, from sculpture to painting, drawing, printmaking, and video. On the occasion of her first solo show in an Italian...
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