Tal R: How to Count to Tree
Victoria Miro Venice
1 July–26 August 2023
Tuesday–Saturday: 10am-1pm & 2-6pm
Monday by appointment
Victoria Miro is delighted to present an exhibition in Venice of new paintings by Tal R.
Tal R often employs apparently simple compositional devices and motifs from everyday 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. The works in this exhibition are the result of an extended consideration of a clearing in a Danish forest. A curious, eye-shaped space created by felled trees, it compelled the artist to make a series of drawings en plein air, which he later worked into larger works on paper and paintings in his studio. The paintings on view here further distil this experience, bringing into play what Tal R describes as ‘artist’s mathematics’ while criss-crossing the boundaries between depiction and invention, life and art, looking and really seeing.
The exhibition is accompanied by a new essay by Martin Herbert, who writes, ‘The first thing one might notice about these works is that they are modestly scaled, the landscapes in them hemmed in still further, almost comically, by internal “frames” made of wooden beading. Outside of these is a generous edge zone speckled with capitalised language, except that Tal R long ago began vexing the hierarchical distinction between frame and painting, and implicitly between interiority and exteriority, feeling and thing. The format recalls the locale that gestated the paintings themselves, a gap in the forest; a chance invitation to concentrate sustainedly on one corner of the world, or even a corner of this corner… Within such purposively constricted views… the operative gambits seem to be: how much world can fit in one little space? How large can that space feel? And how do you render this place – its forest-ness, tree-ness, clearing-ness – via the synecdoche, the part?’
Read the full essay here. Excerpts feature below.
How to Count to Tree
‘Anyone can walk into a forest; but it can be hard to locate the clearing at its heart. Tal R knows some shortcuts, and here they are.’ — Martin Herbert
‘The multicoloured quartet of trees in Forest Edge is tipping into sheer rhythm and pattern, about to leave physical identity behind.’
‘Letters reverse into near illegibility, become graphic glyphs. When things lose their IDs, a kind of nascent speech that is not controlling or even signifying seemingly becomes possible again.’
‘A sideways oak leaf presses right up against your gaze, and up against the border’s edge, in depthless space: the image grows weird as you look, a small known thing turning creaturely and losing its familiar scale.’
‘In To Count Trees (early morning), the chopped-down arbour is as simplified as it gets; mostly an array of free-floating, rotating, exulting triangles.’
‘Meadow’s multiheaded grouping of yellow flowers at night is Tal R’s attenuating mathematics running at full strength: the least possible detailing necessary to evoke moonlit sunflowers glowing like lamps.’
‘In Fox Read there’s a vulpine form in the foreground that nevertheless also might be another felled tree, and the convocation of brown treelike shapes in the painting’s centre seems halfway-stegosaurus.’
How to Count to Tree
‘The operative gambits seem to be: how much world can fit in one little space? How large can that space feel? And how do you render this place – its forest-ness, tree-ness, clearing-ness – via the synecdoche, the part?’
Sculptures by Tal R on view at Palazzo Experimental
Over the summer months, three important bronze sculptures by the artist are on view in the canalside garden of Palazzo Experimental, Dorsoduro, Venice.
Sculpture has long been an integral part of Tal R’s practice. For the artist its presence – material and metaphorical – has led to an extended consideration of things we might label as ‘objects’ exerting themselves in the shared physical realm of an exhibition space as ‘beings’. The figurative sculptures on view in the tranquil canalside garden of Palazzo Experimental are among the most complete expression of this career-long impulse. ‘I’ve made many different kinds of sculptures,’ Tal R says. ‘Looking back, they all tried to rise up and be figurative: a boy walking, somebody lying down, somebody standing up.’
Appearing almost as archetypes, these works dwell in both contemporary and historical realms; indeed, when viewed as a group they tackle different aspects of the great classical tradition. Shaped in clay, cast in plaster and moulded in bronze, they draw the viewer into their tactile surfaces, inviting us to consider mysteries of origin and meaning.
About the artist
Born in Tel Aviv in 1967, Tal R lives and works in Copenhagen. Recent solo institutional exhibitions include Tal R: The Wrong Side, an exhibition of sculptures and drawings, on view at Artipelag, Stockholm, Sweden (2022). A two-person exhibition, Tal R & Mamma Andersson – About Hill, is currently on view at Malmö Konstmuseum, Sweden (until 1 October 2023) and was previously on display at Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg, Denmark (14 October 2022–10 April 2023).
Solo presentation of the artist’s work have previously been held at Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen, Denmark (2021); Glyptoteket, Copenhagen, Denmark (2020–2021); Magasin III, Jaffa, Israel (2019); Hastings Contemporary, Hastings, UK (2019); MOCAD, Detroit (2019). His major survey Academy of Tal R opened at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in 2017, touring to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. Earlier solo exhibitions have been staged at institutions including ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, Denmark (2013–2014); Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2013); Kunstverein in Hamburg (2011) and Camden Arts Centre, London (2008), amongst others. Tal R held a Professorship at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf from 2005–2014.
His work is held in public collections including: ARKEN, Ishøj, Denmark; ARoS Århus Denmark; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA; Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, Netherlands; Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, New York, USA; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Goetz Collection, München, Germany; Hammer Contemporary Collection, Los Angeles, USA; Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland; Kunsten, Ålborg, Denmark; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark; Magasin III, Stockholm, Sweden; Moderne Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; ; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA.