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CHEIM & READ presents Tal R and Louise Bourgeois

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5 Jan 2017 to 11 Feb 2017
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Artists in this exhibition: Tal R, Louise Bourgeois



Cheim & Read is pleased to present Tal R: Keyhole, an exhibition of recent paintings and drawings by the Copenhagen-based artist. The show will open on January 5, 2017, and continue through February 11. This is the third solo exhibition of Tal R’s work at the gallery.  

Several years ago, Tal R put out a request to his friends and acquaintances to send him photographs of storefront façades in the red light districts of their cities, or that they saw in their travels. He also took many photos himself. From these images he developed the group of artworks that comprise Keyhole, a title he chose for its implications of voyeurism and concealment.  

The drawings, dating between 2014 and 2016, are done in crayon and gouache on paper that is frequently painted or patinated. They are not studies for the paintings despite their similarity in image and tone—whimsically rendered frontal views of sex shops, massage parlors, strip clubs, gay bars, erotic theaters, and brothels—but constitute a separate body of work. (There are drawings that correspond to the subjects of the paintings selected for the show, but they are purposefully not included here.)  

The paintings, all completed in 2016, are executed in pigment suspended in rabbit skin glue, a medium that Tal R has been exploring over a number of years for its freshness, immediacy, and delicacy of touch. If the series’ subject matter is clearly spelled out in the titles of drawings such as “Love Shop” and “Book XXX,” or a painting like “Sex Palace,” in many others—“House 44,” “L’Evasion,” “Naples,” and “Snow” (the incongruous name for a sex shop on the beach in Tel Aviv)— there is no outward indication of the storefront’s purpose.
The artist’s methods of indirection are even more explicit in “Cabaret” and “Cabaret Closed,” in which the theater’s façade in the latter version is hidden behind a rollup security door painted in bands of dusky pink and yellow, turning the imagery virtually abstract—a graphic exercise of what the curator Marie Nipper calls his “constant probing of the borderline between the motif and its dissolution.”  

Tal R approaches his subject matter non-judgmentally, seeing the façades not as conduits for sexual gratification but as metaphors of painting, in which what is presented to the eye succeeds only if it activates the imagination, tantalizing viewers with what is in the “back room,” as the artist calls it, the realm that will forever remain unseen and unknown.  

“I should be unsure of what is in the back room,” he says, “I should not be controlling the symbols.” Put another way, he wants to entice viewers into a place of heightened anticipation, where their “ice cream melts faster than they can eat it.”  

Tal R was born in Tel Aviv in 1967 and currently lives and works in Copenhagen. Between 2005 and 2014, he held a Professorship at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. His most recent solo exhibitions include: Institut für Modern Künst, Nürnberg (2016); Cheim & Read, New York (2012, 2015); Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin (2015, 2016); Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv (2011, 2015); Städtische Galerie Wolfsburg, Germany (2013); Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2013); ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Århus, Denmark (2013); Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (2012) Museu Brasileiro da Escultura, São Paolo (2012), Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck (2012); Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht (2008); Camden Arts Centre, London (2008); Louisiana Museum for Moderne Kunst, Denmark (2007); and Kunsthalle Mannheim (2007).

JANUARY 5 – FEBRUARY 11, 2017 

Cheim & Read is pleased to present Louise Bourgeois: Holograms, the first exhibition devoted exclusively to this little-known aspect of the artist’s long, groundbreaking career.  

In 1998 Bourgeois was approached by C-Project, a New York-based fine arts holographic studio (the C stands for the speed of light) dedicated to exploring the creative potential of three-dimensional photographs through the talents of top-flight painters and sculptors. The plates from Bourgeois’ resulting suite of eight holograms will be on display at the gallery from January 5 to February 11, 2017.  

The dream imagery conjured by Bourgeois for this new art form is in keeping with the probing psychodynamics of her widely admired sculptures, drawings, and prints, but the intimate confines of the hologram seem to have tapped into a particular strain of theatrical freedom. Within these self-contained universes, each measuring approximately 11 x 14 inches, she pieced together a cast of motley, emotionally resonate entities—miniature chairs, a bell jar, a pair of lovers (indicated by disembodied feet on a doll-house-size bed)—that combine the incipient dread and satirical playfulness that marks much of her work.  

The holographic image is created by laser beams that record the light field reflected from an object, burning it onto a plate of glass. The image is scaled at a one-to-one correspondence with the original material, so that peering at these works conveys the sensation of looking at an actual assemblage by Bourgeois, but at an eerie remove.  

One of the most striking aspects of these works is their color, a saturated red that recalls the illumination of an old-fashioned darkroom. While it fits the content perfectly, Bourgeois’ use of this shade of red is actually the result of a materials-based decision. Holograms are glass plates that appear black until they come to life when struck by light at a particular angle. Depending on the way the glass plate is originally encoded, the hologram will have a base color of red or blue. The master plates for Bourgeois’ editions are red, and it was her intention not to tamper with the purity of the diffracted light carrying the image to the viewer’s eye. The dazzling clarity inherent to the process, which allows for close scrutiny of such details as the threads dangling from the bottoms of chairs and the light reflected off the surface of the bell jar, elicits both childlike wonderment and a Beckettian sense of slapstick horror.  

Louise Bourgeois was born in Paris in 1911 and lived in New York from 1938 until her death in 2010. She was named Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French minister of culture in 1983. Other honors included the Grand Prix National de Sculpture from the French government in 1991; the National Medal of Arts, presented to her by President Bill Clinton in 1997; the first lifetime achievement award from the International Sculpture Center in Washington D.C.; and election as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1993 she was chosen to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale. Her work appears in the most important museum collections worldwide and has been the subject of several major traveling retrospectives organized by the Tate Modern, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; The Brooklyn Museum; and The Kunstverein, Frankfurt.


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