The Drawing Class
September 3, 2015
November 7, 2015
In his second solo exhibition at Sommer Contemporary Art, Tal R exhibits new paintings and drawings. The exhibition The Drawing Class focuses on the figure of the female model. After having solo shows at Cheim&Read Gallery, NY and CFA, Berlin, This is his third and last show of nude models, as he readies to investigate new subjects. Just as its namesake, the works examine the elements and modes of creation of the painting. While not citing any specific influence, many artistic references beckon at the viewer: the colorful interiors reminiscent of Matisse, Bonnard and Fauvist artists, figures often evoking German expressionism, other influences may be recognized in Symbolism and Naïve art. While the paintings are imbued with countless cultural and art historical associations, Tal R joins these to a personal style, creating intimate and contemporary paintings.
As he returns to a traditional subject, Tal R also uses a traditional technique in which he mixes rabbit skin glue with color pigments. The color created necessitates swift work, not allowing for fixing mistakes. This requires a highly structured painting process, negating the image of an impulsive painter expressively hurling his emotions on canvas. While titled The Drawing Class, these paintings are not painted after a live model in an orderly classroom. Such a setting, Tal R explains, seems much more as a technical experiment. Instead, Tal R approaches unknown women he encounters in cafés and bars, asking them to model. The session takes place in hotel rooms or the models’ houses, beginning as an interview, while both sides try to overcome the awkwardness of the situation. Tal R then makes three drawings on pink or yellow paper (a result of the rabbit glue), and these later serve as inspiration for paintings.
The awkwardness and deliberate inappropriateness of the situation is present in all parts of the painting, it is this which infuses the painting with its emotional value. Tal R’s investigation of the theme began while teaching at the Art Academy in Dusseldorf, as he tried to find an approach to a subject as the female nude without irony or creation of a vintage cliché depiction, but rather, creating a look that was deeply personal, an intimacy. It is this exchange of looks – between artist and model, between viewer and painting – that occupies Tal R. In his painting he attempts to find a way in which art can be relevant to the contemporary viewer, luring him into the experience of the painting. One traditional approach in art to tempt viewers into the emotional world of the painting has been by depicting the psychology of a certain character, its eyes as windows to the soul. Rather than take this route, Tal R’s paintings treat the whole painting as an object holding psychological intensity. The concrete room, its objects and the female figure are all treated in the same manner, with the same importance, all distorted, as they all take part in conveying an abstract emotion.
Tal R, born in Tel-Aviv (1967), lives and works in Copenhagen. His works have been featured in solo exhibitions in museums and leading galleries worldwide, amongst them: ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark (2013-2014); Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2013); Museo Brasileiro da Escultura São Paulo (2012); Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf (2012); Magasin III Museum & Foundation for Contemporary Art, Stockholm (2009); Louisiana Museum for Modern Kunst, Denmark (2007).