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artist chris taylor, usa: paintings summer, 2017

The body of work Chris created during the summer of 2017 is “fairly unified regarding format and palette, but diverse in its explorations of flat shapes, layers, spaces, and composition.”  This project began in March with a couple of small, 12 x 12 inch paintings, and continued through August.  What I like most about Chris Taylor’s work is the simplicity of color and shape, but the manner in which his work is composed, the layering and arch-like shapes, haphazardly placed, some with jagged edges like paper cutouts is cerebral.  The incorporation of shade and shadow in “blind” (featured image), adds depth to the flat shapes in the landscape.  Chris recently shared on Facebook the series of 12 works that he created this summer.  These acrylic on panel works vary in dimensions. Chris is a lecturer in the Art department at The Ohio State University, which gives him the option of having summers free.  It was quite a task to focus in the studio to create this collection.  When I look at the composite of work in the order they were created there appears to be 3 to 4 thematic groupings of the works, each sharing aesthetic attributes that connect them.

Chris Taylor’s new body of work, with its exuberant and playful nature, inhabits a world in which illusion, rhythm and a flat surface mingle. The square format encourages an open cognitive response in terms of “landscape or portrait” ; each of the squares generates its own orientation and compositional parameters.  Arches, “U” shapes, overlapping forms, the implied stripes or grids in some of them, seen through ambiguous “windows” serve as pure formal elements as well as symbols; clouds, fences, bridges, portals, all direct us to alternative spaces, behind and in front of, the sometimes subtle, sometimes jarring color and value relationships.  Carol Heft, USA

HAF: What is the motivation, which led to the creation of this body of summer works?

Chris: I’m drawn to paintings that recognize the complexities of looking at and identifying the world and the things in it (including oneself): from Leonardo, Mantegna, and Van Eyck; to Caravaggio, Velasquez and Vermeer; through Monet, Degas, and Bonnard; and up to Picasso, Matisse, de Kooning, Frank Stella, Christian Bonnefoi, Francois Rouan, Gerhard Richter, and others. For these painters, vision itself–as a way of finding (and sometimes losing) one’s way in the world–is a primary concern. This concern is at the heart of my own work.

HAF:  All of your works in this series are variations of the square.  What is it about this format that appeals to you?

Chris: I prefer the square format because it avoids the figurative reading of a vertical rectangle and the landscape reading of a horizontal rectangle.  My work began in March with a couple of small, 12 x 12in paintings that continue an architectural vein I began in 2016.  They are focused largely on weaving together and blurring the borders between interiors and exteriors.

HAF:  How has your work evolved over the recent years to shape this collection?

Chris:  I followed these architectural works with pieces that drift away somewhat from the highly complex, often paradoxical layers and spaces seen in most of my paintings since 2015, and are more pointedly concerned with chromatic relationships and collage-related compositional strategies. (There are no literal collaged elements in the pieces, but they are derived from digital collages I created to serve as sketches.) These are the largest paintings I’ve done in years (30×30″). They all contain arch-like forms, which I use as a formal constant or anchor for my varied examinations of color and composition.

My most recent paintings return to the 16×16″ size that I have preferred for many years now. They feature a sort of embedded grid that fills in/fills out simple oval shapes. These are also a return to the kinds of complicated layers that characterized earlier work of mine, in which figure/ground–and “skeleton/skin”–relationships are difficult to pin down.

Carol Heft contributed to this story.  She is a New York City based artist and educator.  She is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and her work has been exhibited internationally.  She teaches Drawing, Painting, and Art History at several colleges in New York and Pennsylvania, and is represented by the Blue Mountain Gallery in New York City.

chris taylor, usa
chris taylor, usa
chris taylor, usa
"blind" acrylic on panel 12 x 12in march 2017
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