Tal R

Tal R

Painting is like Free Falling

“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 artists in this engaging and humorous interview on the nature of art.

Even at the height of his career painting is still the most challenging thing Tal R has ever done. Requiring equal measures of careful planning and risk, painting is “like free-falling with the idea in your pocket,” he says. The ultimate aim is that the painting “unwraps your idea in a way you didn’t see coming.”

Tal R is widely considered to be one of the main forces in bringing painting back after conceptual art dominated the art scene in the 1990s. Deeply inspired by Matisse, his work is a negotiation of the flat surface of the canvas in which figuration becomes form and deeply intimate things become neutral. His latest series of drawings are intimate portraits that are remodelled into painting. “It’s fun to take something that starts out very intimate and draw again and again until they’re just elements that you can pick out and orchestrate,” the artist explains.

Strongly coloured, the often quotidian motifs of Tal R’s work can seem undramatic. In the artist’s opinion painting is “the perfect medium for the mundane” because painting is banal in nature, paint and canvas struggling to create a likeness with the world. “Artists depict what being alive is from where they stand,” he says. “They understand that you can have a private starting point, but a work of art can’t be private. It starts as a private thing and ends up being public.”

Tal R (b. 1967) is a Danish painter and former guest professor at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. His work has been shown internationally, e.g. at ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich and Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin, Germany, Camden Arts Centre, London, UK, and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark, where he will also present a major solo exhibition in 2017.

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

Supported by Nordea-fonden

  • Clemens Setz

    When and Where I Write

    Austrian writer Clemens Setz says he is “very vulnerable” in the early hours of the morning and cuts off all incoming noise from the outside world. Those are “the perfect working hours” for him. Find out why in this short video.

  • Claudio Magris

    Europe and the Open Sea

    “The Mediterranean Sea is becoming a frontier and not a liquid bridge,” says Claudio Magris, leading cultural philosopher of our time. But the sea is many things: bearer of history, great discoveries and the love for his late wife.

  • William Kentridge

    on 'The Refusal of Time'

    How can we get a hold of time with our body and mind? This question is the crux of South African artist William Kentridge’s immersive installation ’The Refusal of Time.’ Join the artist for a detailed tour of his pulsing, breathtaking work.

  • Chigozie Obioma

    Everything We Do is Preordained

    Award-winning Nigerian author Chigozie Obioma calls his debut novel ‘The Fishermen’ “an Igbo version of a tragedy.” Meet the author and hear about his modern day metaphor of “the paradox that is Nigeria.”

  • Mette Winckelmann

    Woman to Woman

    ”You must evaluate whether the system you’re part of could be effectuated differently.” Meet artist Mette Winckelmann, who believes that abstract painting communicates deeper than language, and explore her visual take on gender politics.

  • Wang Shu

    Architecture is a Job for God

    The Chinese architect Wang Shu’s buildings – a crossover between traditional Chinese culture and large-scale modern architecture – have earned him prestigious awards. “Democracy means a really diverse society,” says the architect in this inspiring interview.

  • Jonas Hassen Khemiri

    On Facing the Blank Page

    For Swedish author and playwright Jonas Hassen Khemiri facing the blank page is always “a kind of revenge.” Hear why the acclaimed author – who has been praised by Joyce Carol Oates – considers starting anew as a chance to do even better.

  • Marina Abramović

    On Giacometti

    Marina Abramović has always felt a connection to the work of artist Alberto Giacometti: “It’s like a meteorite coming out of another galaxy where all the matter inside is condensed.” Watch her engage with Giacometti’s iconic sculptures.

  • Margrethe Odgaard

    Colour Diary of New York

    Becoming more aware of your surroundings can “open a new dimension inside as well as outside yourself.” Meet award-winning Danish designer Margrethe Odgaard who has trained herself to register the world through colours.

  • Adam Caruso

    Novelty is nonsense

    "The European city is one of the great human inventions!” Adam Caruso advocates building with a deep sense of history and tradition. Meet the architect behind the award-winning Tate Britain conversion and numerous Gagosian galleries.

  • Thomas Hirschhorn

    A World of Collage

    Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn juxtaposes pixelated images from the media. His works are not about technology, says the artist: “I try to give form to what I can’t accept: that someone else can decide for me what I should do, see or think.”

  • Jonathan Safran Foer

    On Donald Trump

    Jonathan Safran Foer, star of American literature, offers interesting views on America’s new president and the consequences Trump will have on American culture. "The place for literature may be even more important than before," he says.