Meet the experimental artist for whom mistakes can be magical

Stepping inside Tal Waldman’s cosy studio in the northern suburbs of Paris, the hustle and bustle of suburban life suddenly disappears. Nature and experimentation are an endless source of inspiration for the French artist, who says mistakes can make the most magical pieces of art.

Interview and Article – RFI 3/12/2023 with Ollia Horton

An illustration from Tal Waldman's book "Visualising the Invisible", co-written with Fiona Morehouse in 2022.
An illustration from Tal Waldman’s book “Visualising the Invisible”, co-written with Fiona Morehouse in 2022. © Tal Waldman

Light pours in through the windows onto the coloured pens, books and plants. Paint splatters cover the floor, partially hidden by a trestle table in the middle of the room.

Large drawing folders line the walls and rows of framed works and sculptures fill the shelves. Quiet jazz plays from a speaker as Tal serves up some herbal tea.

Creating a sense of calm is essential for this multimedia artist, who finds inspiration in many places.

“When I create, I need to let go,” she tells RFI, describing a form of artistic meditation that can involve anything from doodling randomly in notebooks to sketching, reading and daydreaming.

Despite an outward appearance of calm, she compares her daily practice to that of a sportsperson who exercises her creative muscles regularly in order to be ready for “competition”.

In her case this means battling a blank page.

Unlimited inspiration

“There is no one way to start a work. Ideas come to me at any time. That’s why I’m constantly noting them down. The challenge is to translate them into form.”

Experimentation is key to Waldman’s process, and she often works simultaneously on several projects, letting them evolve in their own time.

Be it photography, painting, drawing, sculptures in glass and ceramics or installation, Waldman leaves no stone unturned and pushes the boundaries of each medium.

“Everything I do is inspired by nature,” she says. “Whether it’s sketching trees or organic life. It could be through texture that indicates an organic shape inside a body or a cell. It could be in the form of a sculpture that is very fluid.”

Fascinated by the play of light and shadow on the leaves of trees, or the mysterious forms of coral under the sea, the artist is kept busy in her quest to represent natural wonders in a physical form.

"Interlaced" - two sculptures made from upcycled materials by artist Tal Waldman.
“Interlaced” – two sculptures made from upcycled materials by artist Tal Waldman. © Tal Waldman

Slow art

Waldman describes her approach as “slow art”. She’s mindful of the process and the details, which are just as important if not more so than the outcome.

It’s important to remain open to change, especially when parts of one project end up morphing into new ideas. This can also be applied to her career path, which has been rich and varied.

After studying design and architecture in Germany and France, Waldman worked for prestigious agencies like those of Jean Nouvel and Christian de Portszamparc. In 2006, she decided to dedicate herself fully to her art.

Waldman often amuses herself by exhibiting the items that “didn’t work”. Mistakes are important stages in the work process, and are never completely cast aside.

“Imperfection is not something I break my head on,” she says smiling.

In fact, imperfection can be beautiful in its own way, she says, showing examples of her sculpture series called “Golden Scars”.

Waldman used the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi, which involves mending broken ceramics with gold dust and resin. The idea is to treat breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to hide.

For Waldman, it’s even a metaphor for coming to terms with oneself, accepting one’s scars and faults and embracing them.

Pieces from Tal Waldman's Golden Scars series. Made using paper porcelain, recycled porcelain, enamels and paint.

Pieces from Tal Waldman’s Golden Scars series. Made using paper porcelain, recycled porcelain, enamels and paint. © Elsa Viollet

Respectful attitude

Recycling and upcycling play a big role in Waldman’s artistic process and have done so even before it became fashionable from an environmental point of view.

“Even though I deal with environmental issues, I’m not an activist artist. When I use upcycling, it’s a choice. It’s a material that is particularly charged with the memories of someone else and of history – I like to use it. It demands a respectful attitude”.

"Embroidered memories" - a sculpture by Tal Waldman and a collective of artisans. An art project on the theme of collective memory and migration, identity, sharing, and cultural diversity.

“Embroidered Memories”, a sculpture by Tal Waldman and a collective of artisans. An art project on the theme of collective memory and migration, identity, sharing, and cultural diversity. © Tal Waldman

The materials Waldman uses have a life of their own. From cloth to wood or ceramics, each object tells story linked to culture, migration, womanhood or motherhood.

Sometimes it’s a mixture of all these things, such as the series “Embroidered Memories” which brings together 10 artisans from Paris to express the experience of immigrant lives.

“I like to feel free to move between one medium to another because they represent different feelings. And I can feel that I am unlimited, even if it’s only for a second,” Waldman says.

It is perhaps the title of one of her books that sums up most aptly Waldman’s approach to creation.

“Visualising the Invisible, a Journey into Silence”. In every drawing, photo and sculpture, Waldman is seeking to lend a physical presence to what is to most a fleeting feeling or impression, difficult for most people to describe, let alone make.

The result is quite stunning and a joy for the viewer, who finds themselves transported into a unique and colourful universe, with limitless possibilities for interpretation.

Her exhibition “Fiat Lux” is at the Cécile Dufay Gallery in Paris 6 December 2023 to 8 January 2024.

Share Button

ARTICLE (TOWARDS THE END)

VIDEO from 2.22MIN to the end (1.20min)

Share Button

Share Button

Share Button

Thanks to @laurencedougier and @elledecoration for this article!
“Le jardin de Tal” is currently on show at the solo exhibition “La Voie d’Expérimentation” at the Cité du Vitrail in Troyes until September 3.

In January 2009, Établissements Jules Pansu, in partnership with the City of Paris, launched a competition for the creation of a decorative wall tapestry, with the aim of proposing a contemporary vision of tapestry, highlighting the variety of techniques used. Tal’s garden won this first prize. The winning project is produced since at Tissages de la Lys (Groupe Pansu) by Les Meilleurs Ouvriers de France.
More information in the book “La Voie d’Expérimentation”, @editionlordbyron April 2023.

Share Button

Share Button

Share Button

Share Button

Share Button

                   

Share Button