Free Fall

Tal R’s Natten, captures the moment we fear but need the most. 

Men Who Can’t Sit on Horses, a solo exhibition by artist Tal R, features one singular painting, Natten (The Night). “I had the space (Magasin III Jaffa) in mind before I even started painting,” Tal R reveals. “How the painting would look from within the space and at night through the window from the street.”

Tal R explains that Magasin III Jaffa’s curator, David Neuman knew he had never produced work for a single piece show, and wanted to challenge him. “The process of creating only one piece was very educational for me. I brought works with me in my suitcase to try and convince him otherwise. But, more is less and I don’t need more to express the point.”

The artist recalls feeling like an outsider throughout different periods of his adolescence. “My name is Tal which means dew in Hebrew, but in the Scandinavian context, it means number.” During the artist’s childhood growing up in Denmark, classmates would ask him what his real name was. Living amidst a population where there weren’t many other Jewish people, also proved to be challenging. “Kids in general don’t like to be different from one another. But, as I got older, I realized, to be an outsider is to live in the valley while still watching yourself in that valley.” The artist digresses, “Tal in German means valley”. He continues, “As an artist, to exist both in the valley and as an observer is an advantage because it affords you a second set of eyes. You look at things twice.”

Influenced by the differing heritages he grew up with, Tal suggests that “all great work is made of things that can’t be combined”.  He continues, “As an artist, you will always reach a point where two different elements seem disjointed. From there you can either give up or spend time building a bridge between the two. That bridge, figuring out a way to translate what was in your thoughts, is what makes something art. The challenge is the process in which you figure out how to say what needs saying. Most importantly, getting lost is part of this process. Above every art school door it should say ‘Invest in losing something’.”

The artist discusses Natten:

“A 15 year old would be able to write something about the obvious scene. There are men in uniform trying to ride but for some reason, they keep falling off of their horses. Down the middle of the painting is a horizontal line, a lake. The horsemen attempt to cross the lake and are not able to.”

When questioned about what struggle the painting is meant to represent Tal explains that the topic is a mystery to him as well. He says that in terms of understanding the painting, his position is closer to the viewer than to that of the creator. “The idea that the artist is so clever that he or she can explain the art, is a common misconception,” Tal claims. The work underscores the universal feelings connected to falling off a horse, real or metaphorical. The question remains, what you do when you’ve fallen off. 

Natten (The Night), 2019, Oil on canvas. Photos by Noam Preisman

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