It’s not often that you hear ‘pleasure’ mentioned in the context of contemporary art these days. Somehow, in these times of refugee crises, the rise of various forms of radical nationalism, the discourse of politics degenerating into an exchange of insults, the natural environment becoming less and less natural, if not gradually destroyed, and the gulf between rich and poor ever increasing, the notion of contemporary art being a source of pleasure (rather than critique or reflection) seems unfashionable, untopical and, well, generally unrealistic in terms of the world we actually inhabit. And these days we want art to speak to that world. Listen to so-called learned sense about art today and you’ll find yourself pounded by the distinct opinion that finding pleasure in art is old-fashioned, even immoral. Anyone who visited this year’s Documenta learned that. And, to an extent, it’s probably the impression that you’re left with after reading magazines like this one too.
So it’s as much disconcerting as it is refreshing to witness ideas of pleasure playing a central role in Israel-born, Copenhagen-based painter Tal R’s ongoing Sexshoppaintings. And what exactly is his idea of pleasure? A closed door. At least that’s the message you get when you stand in front of The pleasure (2017), which offers the viewer the aforementioned (firmly closed) double door – its four glowing, triangular hinges looking like a set of cartoon animal teeth – parked in the middle of a yellow wall.
Image: Tal R, The pleasure, 2017