Ecstatic Shadows: Recent Paintings by Chris Taylor
What abstract painting does is more interesting to me than what it means. I rarely try to say what my work is about, but I reflect a lot on how I think it works.
The title of this exhibit, “Ecstatic Shadows,” comes from a happy accident. Sometime last year (2021), I was typing a note about this work on my phone. I wrote something about putting shadows in abstract paintings, and autocorrect changed it to, “putting ecstasies in abstract paintings.” That sounded funny, but also interestingly fitting. “Ecstasy,” comes from the Greek, “ekstasis”, which literally means, “to cause to stand out.” Shadows are a prominent feature of these pieces, and that’s what shadows do; they articulate surfaces and forms and spaces, causing them to stand out. I think of abstract painting in similar terms; it brings out aspects of painting that might otherwise be hidden or denied or ignored, and makes them visible as active, meaningful elements of the medium.
My paintings focus on spatial organization, on the ordering of front and back, near and far, before and after, visible and hidden, figure and ground. The ways in which I compose the visual elements in my work make that organization unstable, or they reveal that that kind of organization is already somewhat unstable. The spatial relationships between the various parts of my paintings are never quite fixed. Exploring these pictorial issues is, for me, analogous to exploring the complex, ambiguous, and always unfinished nature of apprehending and articulating ourselves and our worlds.
My paintings usually stay pretty close to the digital sketches that they’re derived from, but there are always a few surprises (some happy, some not) when I translate something from one medium to another. I have been asked if I'd ever consider just printing out my digital sketches, exhibiting them as prints. No, I wouldn’t. These things are structured to be most interesting as paintings. They are responsive to the physical properties of paintings, the ways paintings are made, and the ways paintings are looked at and explored by a viewer. I have noticed (and this shouldn't be surprising at all) that if one of my sketches looks really fantastic in digital form, viewed on a screen, it probably won't look great as a painting. The screen is apparently its home, and it probably ought to stay there.
The diptychs in this show are my newest works, and I have plans to make several more of them. They have much in common with the slightly earlier, single-panel paintings, but their central focus is the relationships between the two panels that comprise each piece. I’m interested in making the panels appear to be both continuous with and independent of each other. They sometimes acknowledge and sometimes obscure the edges along which they touch, so that their limits are hard to define. I started making these diptychs because I’m wary of multi-panel paintings. I find them unconvincing in many cases. My desire to investigate them comes from my unease with them.
The Artist was included in Studio Visit Magazine Volume 50, a Boston-based Art Magazine Competition, Summer 2022.
October 1 - 29, 2022
Public Reception, October 1, 4-8pm
Virtual show platforms:
OSU ART FACULTY SHOW
Sean Christopher Gallery Ohio favorite Chris Taylor (left) is seen here together with friend, art enthusiast and conversationalist extraordinaire Frank Mitchell (right). The two pose with Taylor’s abstract paintings tonight (Sept 23) during the Opening Reception for the OSU Department of Art Faculty Show, OSU Urban Arts Space, Downtown Columbus, September 20-November 12, 2022.