If These Walls Could Talk
In the hands of virtuoso Danish painter Tal R, self-serious Modernist traditions are a playful means of hinting at a painting’s hidden chambers and alighting on the profound in the everyday.
Tal R believes that craft is overrated. The Tel Aviv-born, Denmark-raised painter, whose palette of dirty pinks, jewel greens and schoolbus yellows manages to endow a parade
of supine women, street scenes and carnivalesque spaces with an interior life that transcends their inanimate origins, says that intent always trumps technique when it comes to making art.
“I always want my paintings to be more about expression,” laughs Tal R, who has long dropped his last name — Rosenzwieg — for a moniker that makes him seem more elusive than he actually is. “Craft simply colours in the expression. When I was teaching, I had students who were living in Russia and had a formal education in painting so could paint masterfully. They knew all the tricks. But there was nothing in their paintings. You try to teach them that the craft should follow the idea, not the other way around and it’s always the idea that drives it. And even if you lack craft, it doesn’t matter because your sense of necessity will be so strong, you will create the tools. If you get to a stage where you’re just polishing your tools, then I’d stop. Because even though in one way, the work gets better, in the important way the work gets worse. It gets sharper but the bone inside it just disappears.”
Tal R, who’s talking to me over the phone from his studio in Copenhagen, has spent the last two decades reconciling romantic ideas about artistic expression with aesthetic achievements that... Subscribe to read this article in full
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