Opening reception: Saturday, March 19, 6–8pm
Blum & Poe is very pleased to present its first solo exhibition of paintings and sculpture by Los Angeles-based artist Henry Taylor.
In Henry Taylor’s work, the line between art and life is often indistinguishable; freely commingling intensely personal figurative paintings with totemic assemblage sculpture. Taylor has developed a unique visual dialect wedded to the downtown-Los Angeles community he calls home, addressing his subjects with the ease of an insider and the hand of an outsider. Taylor’s nuanced portraits shed a sentimental light on near and dear friends, family members, lovers and heroes, both dead and alive, real and imagined. They are non-hierarchical, generous and democratic likenesses of the people most central to his life and thought, with equal emphasis placed on a portrait of his niece and nephew in relaxed pose or larger than life statuesque representations of Serena Williams or Jackie Robinson. An acute documentarian of his community, Taylor fits squarely into the lineage of painter as social observer, channeling amongst others, Alice Neel, Toulouse Lautrec and John Singer Sargent.
Taylor’s paintings and sculptures are often constructed in a frenetic manner with partial gestures, half-phrases or incomplete figures painted on surfaces as varied as cigarette packs, cereal and beer boxes or suitcases. These objects, prior to Taylor’s intervention, were left for dead on street corners and in dumpsters, but when salvaged by the artist, become fair game, to be used as integrated components in sculptures or as alternative surfaces to stretched canvas for painting. Most recently Taylor has begun collecting emptied Clorox bleach bottles, which when spray painted black and inverted on broomsticks take the form of African tribal masks or dancing statues. Propped on constructed bases of plywood and held together by whatever means necessary, these figures come to life, defined both by their unique handmade construction and shabby materiality. They exist as accumulations of found objects intimately linked to their surroundings, repurposed and breathed with life by their maker.
Taylor’s vernacular is the street. His studio practice is deeply informed by its sights and sounds, and most notably by its people; those who move freely between Taylor’s life and studio, often only long enough to have their portrait painted once. These personalities, along with the historical figures who find their way into Taylor’s work, are rendered with a dignity and soul, befitting their place within Taylor’s world.
Henry Taylor (b. 1958, Oxnard, CA) has been honored with solo museum exhibitions at The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY, 2007, the Santa Monica Art Museum, Santa Monica, CA, 2008 and will be included in the forthcoming exhibition, Human Nature: Contemporary art from the Collection, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA. Taylor has been included in such group exhibitions as Red Eye, 2006 and 30 Americans, 2008 at the Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL, and At Home/Not at Home: Works from the Collection of Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg, 2010, curated by Matthew Higgs at the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Henry Taylor received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from California Institute of the Arts and lives and works in downtown Los Angeles.