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

  • Peter Land

    Man Falling

    Meet an artist who uncompromisingly uses himself in his art. Inspired by his own fears and anxieties Peter Land makes disturbingly humorous work, but it was moral qualms that were behind his groundbreaking video of himself dancing naked.

  • Mika Rottenberg

    Girl Power From Another Century

    Meet the truly original video artist Mika Rottenberg! Here she shares the fascinating story behind her take on Orwell's 'Animal Farm' – a work in which a group of women with extremely long hair turn things around – and take fate into their own hands.

  • Vigdis Hjorth

    I am not a Pretty Postcard

    “Writing is the relationship between head, gut and hand.” Vigdis Hjorth is considered one of the strongest voices in contemporary Norwegian literature. She here shares why it is essential for her well-being to be able to express herself in writing.

  • Yona Friedman

    Architecture of Trial and Error

    “Don't forget that very important cities today started by immigration.” Meet the 94-year-old architect behind 'L’Architecture Mobile', Yona Friedman. He here shares the story of how his years as a refugee sparked his desire to make architecture adaptable.

  • Nástio Mosquito

    'Mama Africa' is a Construct

    In this short interview Angolan artist Nástio Mosquito discusses his provocative video work, in which he through three blazing speeches addresses the legacy of the western logic of ownership and debt, not least regarding a construct like ‘Africa’.

  • Nástio Mosquito

    What are You Willing to Die for?

    Angolan artist Nástio Mosquito has been dubbed “the future star of the art world.” He here talks about his invigorating multidisciplinary practice, which investigates universally human characteristics in a teasing, polemic and humorous way.

  • Marina Abramović

    Electricity Passing Through

    For more than 50 years trailblazing performance artist Marina Abramović has used her own body and energy as her main artistic material. In this powerful interview, the artist looks back on her radical practice: “It was like the first woman walking on the moon.”

  • The Story of Marina Abramović & Ulay

    Legendary couple in performance art – Marina Abramović and Ulay – lived together for 12 years and made pioneering work as a duo. In this extraordinary double interview the artists look back on their relationship – from their first meeting in 1975 until now.

  • 11 Artists

    on Photography

    “We are so oversaturated with images, so it’s about one question: Can I hold you - can I get you to look at an image for longer than a second?” Watch Catherine Opie, Wim Wenders, Jeff Wall and 8 other artists on the power and potential of photography.

  • Julie Nord

    The Power of Drawing

    “It’s the closest you get to silence – or skin. There’s so little between me as an artist and my material.” Artist Julie Nord here shares her attraction to the "no bullshit" of drawing. Visit her studio and take a peek at how she makes her surreal, fairy tale-like drawings.

  • Nina Saunders

    A Cultural Warrior

    Meet artist Nina Saunders who plays with the familiar by twisting it in surprising ways. She here discusses her humorous yet disturbing work – made from discarded upholstered furniture and stuffed animals – which comments on our world.

  • Erica Jong

    Sexuality and Creativity

    “The urge to create and the urge to copulate are very close.” Watch the iconic feminist writer Erica Jong speak candidly of being fuelled creatively by desire, her experiences as a female writer and what she has come to realize about men.