Danish Tal R is one of the most striking artists of his generation with a strong and growing international reputation. Since the 1990s he has exhibited all around the world, particularly in Europe, and his art is represented in many major collections.
During the past decade Louisiana has established a distinctive collection of works – especially paintings – by Tal R *b. 1967. It is therefore natural to round off the Louisiana trilogy of contemporary artists with painting as their central practice: Peter Doig in 2015, Daniel Richter in 2016 and now Tal R.
Florian Langhammer, (c) Collectors Agenda
The exhibition title Academy of Tal R should be understood as a mildly humorous provocation, since Tal R’s artwork always appears free, wild, searching, vital and simply unacademic. Through an overview of his work from the past twenty years and a series of new works, the exhibition shows that Tal R from the outset has been a storyteller with a special eye for the overlooked, hidden and repressed spaces of modern life. In his art and thinking, Tal R is constantly interested in everything that goes against conformity.
For Louisiana it is an obvious choice to mount an exhibition presenting an overview of the Danish artist Tal R’s work over the past two decades: on the one hand because the museum has followed him since he was a student at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen in the late 1990s, on the other because over the years the museum has acquired a number of very important works by the artist for its collection. Today, at the age of 50, Tal R has an international standing as one of the great painters of his generation.
It has been twenty years since Tal R made his debut in the museum world with his participation in The Louisiana Exhibition 1997. New Art from Denmark and Scania. Most people know Tal R as a painter, but at that time he presented an energetic mix of painting, drawing and collages. The huge collage Red Man from 1996 was and still is a major work, which is included in the museum’s collection today – and which will also be presented in the exhibition Academy of Tal R. The exhibition establishes that his painting is still a result of interactive experiences with a wealth of other materials and types of work.
Tal R is not an academic artist. On the contrary it can be said that, more than anyone, he has created his own academy, in which insights and skills free of hierarchies are translated into new experiments. Like a vagabond he wanders with a sleepwalker-like naturalness, often breaking the rules, between different practices, and this is why the exhibition does not unfold with chronology as its guiding principle. It is one large ‘academy’.
Tal R’s obstinate resistance to the academic does not mean that he does not stand in a tradition. He obviously does, but his artistic instinct is oriented rather towards the world of reality than to the history of art. In other words he creates art for his own time. One senses that fantasy, or the fantastic, is an important resource which in itself has nothing to do with brushes and paint. For Tal R it is an instrument for opening up the world, eating his way into it and – simply making it more spacious – thus making a striking contribution to the ongoing discussions of the potential of painting. For Tal R, art is a physical matter that resists merely being an idea.
The exhibition also wishes to point to the aspect of the artist’s universe making it clear that as a storyteller he has from the outset had a keen eye for the spaces of dreams and imaginings – and for the people who populate them. Whatever defies uniformity catches his eye and his interest and is a resource for his thinking. This is where we meet ‘the others’. Often social and psychological markers have been trimmed down to a minimum. They are there, turning a little inward on themselves, and as viewers we must consult ourselves and our thoughts in that respect. Tal R opens doors, but we must ourselves enter them.
Tal R: Upstairs, 2015. Galleri Bo Bjerggaard. Photo: Anders Sune Berg.
In the course of the past year the artist has produced two distinctive work suites for the exhibition: Habakuk and Deaf Institute. Habakuk consists of eight very large paintings with a train carriage as subject, on which the word ‘Habakuk’ and a colon are written. Habakuk is a pet name Tal R and his siblings gave their father during their childhood. Deaf Institute – a highly personal and poetic work – consists of 99 large drawn and painted collages in upright format, hung in a giant labyrinth in the Hall Gallery. The collages show all sorts of signs, words – and sometimes whole sentences – mixed with recognizable fragments from earlier works. Both work groups are being shown for the first time.
The exhibition is being shown in Louisiana’s Hall Gallery, Column Gallery and Graphics Wing. It consists of 52 paintings from the period 1995 until today; 6 collage pictures from 1996 to 2008; 34 artist’s books from 1996 until now; 35 sculptures from 2005 on; and 26 drawings from 1997 until 2015.
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and Koenig Books, London, are publishing a 224-page, richly illustrated catalogue for the exhibition Academy of Tal R in Danish and English with a preface by Louisiana’s director Poul Erik Tøjner and the articles “Shadow and Substance” by Anders Kold; “Whatever Is, Is Almost Right. The Principle of ‘Ophobning’”, by Axel Heil; “You Need to Shut Yourself Up” – Tal R in conversation with Terry R. Myers; “The Moons of Art. The Artist’s Books” by Margrit Brehm; an article entitled “:” by Peter Laugesen and a worklist. The catalogue is a.o. supported by The Merla Art Foundation.
Louisiana Channel – http://channel.louisiana.dk
Over the past six months Louisiana Channel has produced a portrait film about Tal R for the exhibition. Primarily, the camera has followed the work with the creation of the Habakuk series up to its arrival at Louisiana shortly before the opening. Through interviews the film also provides insights into the artist’s life and his thoughts on art.
Louisiana Lectures (in Danish)
Wednesday 31 May, 19:30
Untangling TAL – introduction to the artist Tal R and Louisiana’s new exhibition
Louisiana’s Tal R exhibition is the culmination of an involvement that spans exactly two decades, from the artist’s participation in The Louisiana Exhibition 1997. New Art from Denmark and Scania, when Tal R was still a student at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, until today. ’Academy of Tal R’ marks a kind of ‘midway’ point for an artist who is now turning 50 and who in the meantime has become one of Denmark’s big international names.
Anders Kold, the curator of the exhibition, who has worked with Tal R’s art on several occasions, will unravel strands in the oeuvre from then until now. In the 90s figurative painting was off the beaten track, but is it now the straight and narrow? And is ‘midway’ something that can be at all pinpointed in the oeuvre of an artist?
Free admission for the museum’s visitors. Seat booking recommended.
Wednesday 30 August, 19:30
Out of the Academy and into the world
Meet Denmark’s Venice Biennale artist 2017 Kirstine Roepstorff, Superflex, presently occupying Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, John Kørner who has a major exhibition at Kunsthal Charlottenborg, and Tal R in conversation with the curator of the exhibition Anders Kold.
2017 is an important year for a number of Danish artists, all of whom were admitted to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen in 1994. A good twenty years later their works are making a splash from Venice and London to Copenhagen and Humlebæk which prompts us to ask the following question: What happened in the art world then, in 1994? What mechanisms were in play around them when they studied at the Academy, and can we say that what they learned and struggled for is still central to art today?
Free admission for the museum’s visitors. Seat booking recommended.
The exhibition is organized by Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in collaboration with Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. It is supported by Beckett-Fonden, Lemvigh-Müller Fonden and Merla Art Foundation.
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