Tal R (Contemporary Painters Series)
Lund Humphries, 2019
This book assesses the paintings of Tal R (b. 1967), an Israeli-born Danish artist whose enigmatic work offers intersections of personal experience and wider history through a visual jigsaw, finely balanced between representation and abstraction, of what the artist has termed ‘Kolbojnik’, a Hebrew term for leftovers.
Tal R’s paintings are exceptionally idiosyncratic yet informed by an expansive view of the history of painting, with a diverse range of references including Fauvism, Symbolism and folk art. To the casual observer, his works depict amalgams of people, places and things. But deeper scrutiny reveals them as complex conceptual playgrounds where these seemingly simple categories are exploded and examined as ‘construction’ sites of both literal material (including collage, photography and sculpture) and meaning.
For all students and lovers of painting, Tal R’s works, like those of Chris Ofili or Laura Owens, have cleared a pathway for painting to continue after modernism and post-modernism without apology, beyond the worn-out ‘death of painting’ mantra. Martin Herbert’s fascinating text offers an authoritative account of the twists and turns that path has taken so far.