Critics’ Picks

View of “Academy of Tal R,” 2017.

View of “Academy of Tal R,” 2017.


Tal R

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Gl. Strandvej 13
May 20–September 10, 2017

Tal R’s retrospective bubbles with an inexorable sense of play, as the Danish painter ricochets between abstraction, representation, and all points between. His earlier work from the 1990s and his early 2000s experiments with bold, carnivalesque colors and crudely wrought objects are seemingly lifted from a late Philip Guston painting and strained through a kaleidoscopic sieve. Paintings such as Blocked Door, 2000, dominate the space around them through their sheer size and raucous polychromy, their luminous abstraction pushing up against the garbled hieroglyphic-like simplicity of Tal R’s represented everyday things. This period of the artist’s career culminates with the “Adieu Interessant” (Farewell Interesting) series, 2005–2008, which stages visual supernovas of collaged ephemera culled from glossy magazines. Cartoons, skulls, and hard-core pornography are all swept to the margins of these massive works by a veritable explosion of radiance.

More recent works strain the disciplinary boundaries of painting and thrust the medium toward installation, as in Deaf Institute, 2016–17, a labyrinth composed of ninety-nine individual works on paper. These most recent ones feature the same maximal ebullience of the artist’s earlier paintings, integrating masks, cosmograms, and numerous written languages into their dense pictorial strata. Tal R’s most recent series, titled “Habakuk,” 2017, surrounds the painted maze of Deaf Institute. These nine gigantic works resemble painted railway cars with the misspelled name of the Jewish prophet Habakkuk emblazoned on their surfaces in sloppy cursive. While some are brightly hued, others ring out with monochromatic black, drawing the viewer from riotous hues toward abyssal solemnity in a potent counterpoint to the visual buoyancy of the rest of the show.