On Wednesday, Tommy Taylor will be discussing his latest body of paintings, Some Sort of Solitude, at Whitespace Gallery. There are plenty of reasons to drop in for that, not least of which being that Taylor's new body of work is a fine example of a painter pushing his limits.
The abstract, intuitive style that Taylor explored in previous paintings (like the large, amoeba-like mural on Elizabeth St. commissioned by Four Coats) is still apparent in the paintings of Some Sort of Solitude, but only as an element of the work. The paintings are often grounded by photo-realistic scenes, sometimes from what appears to be mid-century family snapshots and other times from pornography. Cartoon characters like Popeye and Brutusor or Br'er Fox and Br'er Rabbit make appearances, often stretched into a disorienting flatness. Then there are Taylor's recognizable brush strokes, weaving their way across these paintings like the connective tissue for all of this psychic energy.
The paintings seem to be explicitly engaged with Freudian tropes, especially the intersections of sexuality and childhood. Even if you (like me) haven't dusted off a copy of Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality in a while, the different purposes of phallic objects, the proximity between family and sexual desire, the mingling of childhood meanings (like a recognizably Disney-like bird perched inches from the spread crotch of a pornographically postured woman), strike a number of notes on that chord.
This isn't an exercise in theory, though. Taylor's paintings feel distinctly personal in a way that is hard to nail down. The aged tone of family photos certainly encourage that feeling, but it is much more than that. In the show's best paintings, which are invariably the large ones, we get overwhelmed by the number of images and references and the combinations that feel not random but particular to a single experience. Getting to hear Taylor parse those combinations is reason enough to drop in to hear him speak.
Tommy Taylor discusses Some Sort of Solitude at Whitespace Gallery on Wed., March 28 at 6:30 pm. More details.
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