it is an obvious choice to mount an exhibition presenting an overview of the Danish artist Tal Rs 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 museums collection today and which is also being 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 Rs 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 artists 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.
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 Louisianas 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 artists books from 1996 until now; 35 sculptures from 2005 on; and 26 drawings from 1997 until 2015.
The exhibition has been organized by Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, in collaboration with Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.