Tal R was born Tal Rosenzweig in Tel Aviv in 1967 to a Danish mother and Czechoslovakian Jewish father. Raised in Denmark, his childhood was defined by his family’s split identity: the orderly Scandinavian society of his maternal side contrasted with his father’s experience as a Holocaust survivor. Tal’s traditional Hebrew name, which also means “number” in Danish, did not assist in his acclimation, especially among school-aged peers. Drawing provided a needed escape. As he has said: “For me, drawing was the same as dreaming at night: you don’t decide what to dream about, you dream about what you need.” Tal’s self-identification as an outsider, caught between two worlds, fueled a fertile artistic landscape of shifting realities. His unique vision eventually led him to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, where his work caught the eye of Louisiana Museum curator Anders Kold.
The duality of Tal’s heritage is recognized in his work, which offers sensations both celebratory and sinister. Saturated color is weighted by shadow; café and street scenes, festooned and radiant, are simultaneously claustrophobic and labyrinthine. His subject matter is intentionally easy to describe, but meaning, as in dreams, is enigmatic. Tal works with a variety of media—collage, sculpture, installation, painting—and intuitively culls imagery from diverse sources. (He cites the Yiddish word kolbojnik—“leftovers”—as a loose definition for his process of gathering inspiration.) Historical and art historical references abound: threads of Expressionism, Fauvism, and Symbolism run throughout, as do nods to traditional Scandinavian art, Art Nouveau, and outsider or children’s art.
Tal R lives and works in Copenhagen and from 2005–2014 held a Professorship at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. His most recent solo exhibitions include: Louisiana Museum for Moderne Kunst, Denmark (2007), Kunsthalle Mannheim (2007), Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht (2008), Camden Arts Centre, London (2008), Cheim & Read, New York (2012, 2015), Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Germany (2012), Museu Brasileiro da Escultura, São Paolo (2012), Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck (2012), Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg, Germany (2013), Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2013), ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus, Denmark (2013); Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel (2011, 2015), Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin (2015, 2016), and Institut für Modern Künst, Nürnberg (2016).