I Look Away When I Have to
Tal Simon’s recent large-scale paintings, most of which were created under the Covid lockdown, depict visions of landscapes manipulated and stretched to form dynamic, explosive environments. The mixed-media diptychs on canvas and wood defy conventions, expanding and bending the relationship between foreground and background, abstraction and figuration, real and imagined. Nature itself seems to question its own structure, its elements set in a constant shift, appearing and disappearing amidst a hazy, almost psychedelic composition. Working with oppositions, vivid new harmonies of color, and a fierce emotional intensity, the series recalls the works of contemporary greats like Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell, Cecily Brown, and Per Kirkeby, and evoke familiar Impressionist and Fauvist approaches to nature. This constant conversation with the past informs a forward-thinking creative process. Each painting starts with a particular memory or narrative, which is transformed into a small drawing. Simon then puts the drawing away, out of sight. Working from memory, he re-creates it as a larger scale painting, producing an emotionally layered landscape with geological strata-like qualities. The process of remembering, along with the fragmented, at times chaotic nature of memory itself, is reflected in the final, ecstatic image, evoking a visceral response as the viewer is simultaneously lured into the colorful gestures and alarmed by them. This ambiguous push-and-pull renders the paintings alive, inviting viewers to participate in a new experience and question their own identities, structures and limitations. Taken together, these paintings offer a vivid exploration of life’s constant state of change and the dynamic nature of living beings through time.