Tal R – You laugh an ugly laughter at Kunsthalle zu Kiel

Tal R has developed an artistic strategy to recycle the meaningless and the obvious – the remains, what is left behind in the art world. The artist himself, who was born in Tel Aviv in 1967, refers to his works as ‘Kolbojnik’ – as the waste bin is called in a Kibbutz. For each new project, Tal R uses a different technique – collage, photography, drawing, sculpture – returning again and again to painting, his favourite medium. All the while, his fascination with the recalcitrant material is controlled by a rigorous composition. Consisting of elements of the underground (comic strips, graffiti, music), the naive, self-confident subjects materialise in colourful, exploding objects with geometrical interiors. In a comprehensive retrospective, the Kunsthalle zu Kiel shows the Danish artist amidst baroque halo, undertow and explosion, comic strips, furniture, erupting volcanos and geishas.

A feeling for form, color-signals, irony, humor and a rich vocabulary of remakeaspects is combined in Tal R’s oeuvre with the conceptual strictness of a lyrical form which is freshly selected for each new work. Just as with poems, one can approach his works through the distinction between form, meter and contents. Form should be conceived, not as the external contour of a picture or a sculpture, but as the manner in which the composition assumes its outward appearance. Tal R develops his sequences of pictures, series of sketches or groups of objects in an almost scientific investigation, and on the basis of a certain spectrum of material and color. The individual works are connected through the same outer dimensions or inner visual structure. Examples could be furnished by the group of pictures in the exhibition The Sum (2007/2008) at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, or by the radial pictures of the series Adieu Interessant (2005 – 2008), as well as the drawings, box- and frame-objects. Sometimes the artist produces entire blocks of works with an eye to certain exhibition situations, and sometimes his work arises independently of them. In order to do justice to the rich diversity of his oeuvre, the Kunsthalle zu Kiel, in cooperation with the Kunsthalle Tübingen, is presenting for the first time works of Tal R from various phases and projects.

Tal R’s circumspect navigation in the exhibition context – his effort to expand his art onto everyday surroundings, to keep borders flowing, and to show the constructed nature of things – also defines the structure of his oeuvre itself. One aspect of this is the cubist organization of the surfaces of many of his pictures. Furthermore, the central level of the picture is surrounded by vignette-shaped framings, as if the picture were a playing field which has room for four players on each of its four sides. In a decorative sense, the ornaments in the side-bands convey the pictorial motifs to the external world. Objects culminate in the chaotic juxtaposition of bizarrely crooked and subtly varied pictorial fields. Alongside the reference to Cubism and a graffiti-like manner of painting which recalls the American painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, stylistic diversity and self-referentiality triumph over content in Tal R’s pictures. They are cubist, two-dimensional, painted in a patchy, airy or grained manner, sometimes blurred, sometimes appearing as a woodcut-like form, as papier collé or a material picture in relief, painted over or sprayed in one color, so that the viewer knows neither whether he is standing opposite a picture or an object, nor what is art and what is its frame.

Kunsthalle Kiel

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