October 9, 2009

I DON'T THINK I'M THE FUTURE OF ART: Excerpt from an interview with Tal R


The possibilities of painting?

Painting is a zombie medium. As a painter you are a little bit like a guy showing up in a tiger suit at a techno party. So your dress code is outdated, but you might still have the best moves on the dance floor.

Personally speaking, painting is a language though which I can get a lot of experience both in and out. But to tell you the truth, it is a complicated medium, it is and remains a puzzle to me, It is not a necessary medium anymore, but somehow so many people still keep on painting. Then again, it suits me and I like the flatness of a surface. I desperately need that flatness to tell my stories, because otherwise they are too weird and unfocused.

What kind of stories to you mean?

For me, at least, the things I really like and enjoy are not necessarily things I understand. Thus, my stories are not clear-cut, but quite strange, even if they can be pretty straightforward. One good example is a painting I just finished. It shows a woman sitting in a forest at night. There are birds flying around. It started with the desire to paint birds in the night. In the finished result they look like bats, which, I guess, is both the failure and the thrill of painting.

The role of the artist?

I don’t know. But I can tell you that as a painter who simply had fun making paintings, I did feel bad for a long time. I really did envy artists whop dealt directly with social issues. Then later on when I saw more of these works, I figured that they are actually the real painters. I became disappointed. Quite often these good citizens use social issues as if they were paint and brush, and organize them into big paintings.

But to be serious, I think the role of an artist is to make people’s lives a little more complicated.

Do you think you have succeeded?

No, Anyhow, I don’t think I’m the future of art. I consider myself like somebody who sings ballads, those stupid songs about being in love in the woods.

[From the catalogue for the exhibition Stop for a moment. Painting as Presence. (2002).]


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