« Back to Gallery / Events

Tamar Halpern,  Outer Nothingness , 2016

Tamar Halpern, Outer Nothingness (2016)



November 12 – December 31, 2016

7313 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90046

Playback. The last of Raymond Chandler’s novels, written before he died, takes place in the fictional town of Esmeralda – a pseudonym for La Jolla, California. Chandler was the master of film noir. Playback makes me think of a tape rewinding…. like the disintegration loops by William Basinski…. in the 1980s, Basinski constructed a series of tape loops consisting of processed snatches of music captured from an easy listening station. When going through his archives in 2001, he decided to digitize the decades-old loops to preserve them. He started a loop on his digital recorder and left it running, and when he returned a short while later, he noticed that the tape was gradually crumbling as it played. The fine coating of magnetized metal was slivering off, and the music was decaying slightly with each pass through the spindle. Astonished, Basinski repeated the process with other loops and obtained similar results.

Jazz, japanoise, hip-hop, the blues, improvisation, sampling, layering…. Work is alive. Changing, breathing…. acting, reacting, in dialogue with the other performers….my work, repurposing images, layers, information…. combining them and reusing them in new, different ways…. creating new works…. new content…. constantly rewinding and pushing play…. only each time the layers play they are a little different…. with every use and reuse of a layer or an image, disintegration and accumulation occurs….

Comedy of Errors, a title taken from Patti Smith’s book M Train…. it’s a description she uses in her book to describe herself on a particular day…. “a victim of my own comedy of errors.” …. a large part of my process is creating space for errors to occur, these errors combined with my intention create the final compositions or paintings. That’s what I call magic….

Light and shadow…. Reflection of my studio space. The Screen, layers in Photoshop…. the actions I take while working on the computer are the same actions I make physically while working on the paintings…. the digital mirrors the physical. I drag and drop layers on my computer screen, I decide how these layers react with the layers below and above, I add color, change color, change the saturation or the density of a layer…. I cut and paste in the computer…. and I cut and paste in the physical realm…. I drag in the physical, coaxing the physical layers so that they may be curvy or straight, I decide how to affect the clarity of information, or density of the layer, I add a layer of dark or white above or below each layer…. affecting its light…. or inner glow.

Some digital layers are completely fictions…. others are from photographic files…. some are the combination.… some are generations and generations of accumulation and disintegration…. others are younger…. simpler. Less affected.

I must not forget to mention my printer… and the arguments that explode between us while I’m trying to work… the drama, the frustrations…. the scars that are left from the clashing of these two very different minds are often seen as gestures in my paintings…. A frustrating yet at times a productive collaborator in my work.


After my mom passed away, I was struggling in NY, so I traveled…. I traveled to places that called to my inner self…. to my essence. My travels took me to Morocco, Israel…. and Venice.

I have a natural bond or affinity with the desert, the North African, Middle Eastern culture, Mediterranean and Ottoman culture…. mother’s father’s family is originally from Spain…. growing up in Israel, traveling to the Sinai desert, staying with Bedouins, going on trips through the desert by camel…. sleeping in Bedouin tents…. always felt like being at home.

Traveling to North Africa this year, admiring the lace work etched into wood and marble, the hard solid material felt delicate, gentle, ephemeral…. a veil obstructing my view while trying to look through.

Patterns and colors of the carpets, garments, fabrics…. at people’s homes I noticed Moroccans throw carpets, layered unto each other to form wall to wall carpeting…. They also use layered textiles to cover cushions for their couches… and of course use these same patterned textiles for pillow cases and blankets. Patterns on patterns. The Bedouin tents are made of heavy patterned textiles stitched together and shaped over a skeleton…. creating rooms with carpeted floors…. stitched again to the adjacent room…. until a circle is formed, a dwelling, protecting its occupants on the inside from the harsh winds and sun blowing across the sands….

I traveled through Turkey for five weeks…. The Turks use patterned tiles to line their walls…. Creating even larger patterns…. made me feel as if heavy textiles were hanging…. much like the Bedouin tents I slept in the desert….

Venice where I spent a week looking at Titian, Tiepolo and Tintoretto….

It is when I returned from my travels that I began to play with layering silk onto other layers of printed silk…. allowing for one layer of information, image to respond to the layer below…. producing a third layer of content…. a moving narrative.

Japanese street photography of the 70’s and 80’s, literature, film, music, traveling…. origami flowers. …. light, shadows…. photographic information that my camera picks up when photographing my work…. photographing texture or material around the studio. My cats that wander into and out of the frame, plants or ladders that can’t seem to ever get out of the way enough…….… Information …. noise from the camera, the file…… the photographer…. me.

The content of the final paintings…. are recordings or the aftermaths of their creation…. evidence of the private performance that took place in my studio…. they are the combination of the physical and the digital gestures…. mechanical and hand that took place on their surface. Their density is a fine balancing act between improvisation and structure…rhythm and chaos…. clarity and noise…. Some paintings are quiet, some are loud, some reveal themselves slowly…. like the shadows in a Raymond Chandler film slowly revealing the forms that are hidden within, some lay themselves bare quickly like pop.

I am thinking of the composition…. not the materials…. I follow the work visually, not conceptually. My goal is to make a painting. The final composition is important…. there is a point to which I say: this is finished. This is the composition that I feel works. The end composition is what I’m driving to.

Tamar Halpern (b. 1979, Los Angeles) has had solo exhibitions “My Voice at the Pace of Drifting Clouds” at On Stellar Rays, New York (2015); “Six Minutes of Pleasure” at Office Baroque, Antwerp, Belgium (2013/2012); “Get Up with It” at Triple V, Paris, France (2013); “Now honey play me close like sugar play me toast” at Galeria Pedro Cera, Lisbon, Portugal (2012); “Fear for Poet and Drink Whiskey” at Egeran Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey (2012); and D’Amelio Terras, New York (2011). Group exhibitions include “Fixing a Hole” at Koenig & Clinton, New York (2014); “Post Culture” at Elizabeth Dee, New York (2013); “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control” at Callicoon Fine Arts, New York (2013); “The Cat Show” curated by Rhonda Lieberman at White Columns, New York (2013/2010/2009/2008); Braverman Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel (2010); Greater New York, MoMA/PS1, Queens, NY (2010); “The Knight’s Move” curated by Fionn Meade, Sculpture Center, Queens (2010); Which Witch is Which? curated by Ajay Kurian, White Flag, St. Louis, (2010); On Stellar Rays, New York (2009). Halpern lives and works in Brooklyn.

For more information visit MIER Gallery.