Petar Tale - Moon Night 1996Moon Night 1996 118*180 cm

Tale’s Landscape Painting

It is a clear and simple truth that our relationship with the environment renders it a constantly absorbing and significant form for the artist. During the course of his working life Tale has produced utterly enthralling landscape paintings. Surely they merit inclusion amongst the highest achievements in the genre.

Landscape as emblem

Spanning a wide range of themes, a primary concern could, perhaps on first apprehension, be said to be weather and light; but these are never considered in a topographical way. Though portrayed in their own right, the landscapes are equally, simultaneous metaphors, or emblems for a more extensive range of references, concepts and ideas, often removed from the apparent subject. They are undoubtedly the creation originating in a lifetime’s intense observation and joy in the natural world; yet Tale’s work has always been produced in the studio, founded on his memories, feelings and ideas impelled by the contemplation of the beauties of nature and the cosmos. He has assimilated a number of influences so effectively that, while his work may prompt comparisons or associations, it is difficult to isolate a pre-dominant stimulus other than that of the broad-spectrum of the European Tradition of landscape art. Furthermore he has synthesized particular aspects of 20th Century developments in art – principally, the greater awareness of psychological understanding which the age has delivered, linked with an ever increasing concentration on abstract art. It is in the development of these twin elements that Tale has succeeded in creating a new language for contemporary landscape painting.


Living, as he does, in the Northern hemisphere, the dazzling and often strangely fascinating magnificence of the winter landscape has many times provided both image and concept for Tale. It is his favourite season and he has explored many facets of it in his paintings. He has investigated the opportunities offered by snow, mists, forests, sunshine, water and mountain storms – not new subjects in themselves, as a quick recall of, for example, some of the work of Turner and Monet reminds. However, Tale’s handling of the subject is entirely contemporary and novel as study of Winter Morning instructively reveals. The apparent simplicity of the image, the subtle but never ‘real’ colours, the quietly pulsating and abstracted energy of the air and the ground – all of these factors, together with the thoughts they induce, reveal that this image is very far from a description of ‘reality’. It is a unique synthesis of the reductive, embedded in observation of natural phenomena – though not in any way restricted by it – and the ‘inner’ landscape of the mind. The image may not be described as expressive ‘fantasy’, ‘romantic’ or an illustration of the ‘sublime’, because the discriminating observations of nature Tale chooses to retain, serve to focus on psychological allusions. The vestigial depiction leans much more towards the visionary or transcendental. Tale has described painting as being a ‘religious’ experience for him and in Winter Morning this is almost palpable.

...The seasons

Tale has created many other original seasonal landscape images; those based on spring, such as Evening where he conjures up an array of greens suggesting the regenerative potential of this season or Spring Rain where the refreshing quality of a sudden spring shower presents an absorbing drama in the skies. In both these images the references to reality are minimal; sufficient to aid identification of the context of the poetic allusions and direct thoughts on other voyages. Nor is Tale afraid of reclaiming heady, lush, sensuous beauty such as displayed in Autumn Morning. In Fading Light the warmth and sonorous languor of summer can also provide revelations.


However, a recurring distinction in almost all the landscape paintings is the rapturous beauty of nature, initially inspiring thoughts and feelings of transcendence. Tale invariably employs the idea of weather, both as a source of dramatic imagery in itself and as a metaphor for the depiction of states of mind – often merging several contrasting interpretations within one painting. As imagery, sun and rain have frequently offered this opportunity; the resolution of opposing forces, is a characteristic quality of Tale’s other works. Storms too, often feature in his landscapes and while there are many art historical precedents for this subject Tale’s achievement is to create a truly individual outcome as in Before the Storm. When this image is studied, it bears little resemblance to the reality of fact; rather it forms a stirring testament to the thoughts inspired by its witness.


The coalescing factor in all these paintings is light, yet it always remains a light ‘of the mind’, founded on observation but rendered emblematic by Tale’s elimination of extraneous detail and his concentration on the essence, endowing it with a spiritual dimension. Tale’s passion for light is always evident. Though his light is certainly revelatory the light he creates, while bearing resemblance to actuality, is an ‘inner’ light which is ultimately more concerned with the revelations of thought or feelings, often both.


Light and contrasting night and darkness have motivated Tale to produce original imagery, and those derived from the depiction of the sun are among Tale’s most compelling work. With their resonating, sumptuous nuances of colour, Winter Light and Morning Sun both completed in oil, are examples of Tale’s work in a series of paintings on this theme. Contemporaneously, Tale explored many images of the moon – surely producing some of the most exciting work devoted to this subject, as in, for example, Moon Night. Not since Elsheimer has the poetic beauty of moonlight been matched in such magical transformation. The darkness is as much the subject as the moon – and what a darkness. No one has painted night and darkness as Tale has – the reductive simplicity, the vibrant energy, the mystery and the sheer poetry distinguish this series of paintings. Tale’s darkness is about the unknown and the unknowable and can be forbidding as it is in Bishop’s Night, but it can also be warm, enveloping, and exhilarating as shown in Deep Night. In his depiction of water, night and forests Tale has created a further series of innovative images, bordering on the abstract. This is vividly exemplified in Autumn Reflection, where, perhaps, reverberations of Clyfford Still’s abstracts have been assimilated and re-invented.

Abstract element

Throughout Tale’s landscape paintings the abstract element plays a significant role. This is apparent from his earliest development as, for example, the drawing Autumn Forest, completed in 1967 clearly demonstrates. Here the subject becomes virtually submerged and serves as a catalyst for explorations of a substantially more philosophical nature. In a letter Gauguin wrote, he succinctly expressed a part explanation which is helpful here:

‘I obtain by arrangements of lines and colours, using as a pretext some subject borrowed from human life or nature, symphonies, harmonies that represent nothing real in the vulgar sense of the word; they express no idea directly, but they should make you think as music does, without the aid of ideas or images, simply by the mysterious relationship existing between our brains and such arrangements of colours and lines’.

Use of watercolor

In the watercolor paintings Tale yokes the qualities and nature of the medium so that it contributes extensively to the significance of the work, while maintaining balance and harmony. Tale takes specific care and restraint to ensure that such inclusions have a full function, never indulging in them for their own sake. These absorbing areas may be found in all parts of the paintings; in the trunks of the trees, within the leaves of the trees, in the skies and in the water – rendering the features depicted all the more emblematic. The natural flow and distribution of the pigments form images within images, reflecting the processes of nature itself, endowing the whole image with additional allusions and references, thus bestowing a rich complexity, fascinating to the eye, heart and mind. It is not therefore surprising to discover that Tale has devoted the last seven years of his working life to the exploration and development of this abstract element.

meny Tale's Abstract Work»